On May 31, Congressman Glenn Ivey (D-District 4) held a small business town hall at Flavors Culinary Group in Hyattsville to gain insight directly from business owners about how his congressional office, including his newly-hired Small Business Liaison Luis Murillo, can best help others get off the ground and continue to grow. The ten small business owners present had been through a Goldman Sachs-led small business training program called 10,000 Small Business Voices, which invests in small businesses and provides them with training.
“We are wrapping up National Small Business Month to acknowledge the resilience of small businesses and also to help you grow,” said program leader Jennifer Prosser to start the event. “The business owners that we work with are experts in their fields with great ideas, but who don’t know how to run a business necessarily. Rather than working in their business, work on their business and become the CEO they can best be.”
“This is the best part of the day,” said the Congressman as he enjoyed his breakfast and listened to both the challenges and successes of the present business leaders.
While Ivey expressed he was proud of the local business talent, he also believes that more work can be done. One idea he suggested to anchor small business growth in Prince George’s is working with local partners such as Bowie State University and Prince George’s Community College.
“In the last Congress, we secured a large amount of funding for small businesses. It’s over a trillion dollars from the Biden Administration along with contract opportunities, so we need to make sure we’re getting you the information,” Ivey said when asked about Congress’ progress on small business assistance. Ivey also said he worries that legal decisions which deem affirmative action unconstitutional may, in the long term, negatively affect business programs that aim to assist Black and women business owners.
Odessa Phillips, president of Assedo Consulting based in Prince George’s, was a graduate in the third cohort of the Sachs program. The biggest issue her firm has faced is difficulty in getting opportunities in government contracts, and the inaccessibility of some government websites to assist her business.
Sandra Marley of LPR International graduated in the first cohort and has had difficulty securing adequate funding to continue growing her Lanham-based workforce development company.
Brenda Green, who works with the County Health Department, first heard about this town hall on the morning news and wanted to learn about how to be a successful entrepreneur.
Chef Sharon, who prepared the banquet, stayed to listen. “I use Flavors as a licensed kitchen I can cook out of, and I was asked to prepare something for the event. I even learned about small business opportunities while present,” she said.
One graduate of the Sachs-led program described it as “a mini Masters of Business Administration- for free.”
While the cohorts are based in Baltimore, about one-third of the graduates run businesses based in Prince George’s. Over 600 Maryland businesses have already been assisted by this program.
Quarterly surveys, media engagement, policy advocacy and meetings with legislative leaders are the primary ways that the 10,000 Small Business Voices program gauges the opinion of small business owners and lobby for policies that benefit them.
Improving access to business capital, childcare, government contracting and workforce development training and modernization of the Small Business Administration (SBA) are some of the stated goals of the program with the goal of growing today’s small businesses into tomorrow’s powerhouses.