Prince George’s County seeks to boost its small and minority-owned businesses by connecting them with bigger companies for chances to compete for major contracting opportunities.
The goal of the “Mentor, Protégé Program” will be to work with business owners to receive prime contracts, or the ability to manage and oversee work on various county projects.
A mentor would help a protégé receive education on fiscal management, trade assistance and the county’s procurement process.
“Whether a business is big or small, this government is committed to helping out county-based businesses achieve their goals,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said during a launch of the program Thursday, Aug. 26.
“These partnerships will help small businesses understand what it takes to successfully compete for valuable contracts. With this added help, we expect our small businesses to flourish alongside those who’ve been successfully working within the county for years,” she said.
The program, managed by the county’s Office of Central Services at https://bit.ly/3zmoLMp, has prerequisites for interested businesses that include:
- Be in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.
- Cannot appear on the federal list of ineligible or suspended contractors.
- Mentors and protégés agree to work a minimum of 12 hours per month with each other.
- A protégé business must be certified and based in the county.
- Business leaders who chose to serve as mentors must show “a level of achievement” being in operation for at least five years and having executed 10 projects or contracts.
In addition, a mentor completes a written agreement with a protégé approved by the county’s central services director, Jonathan R. Butler.
Some of the required goals include spending 50% procurement on county-based businesses, 40% participation with small businesses for procurement over $500,000 and about 20% participation with businesses designated as a “minority-based enterprise.”
The program strives to connect with other county services such as “The Green Book” at https://bit.ly/3zoFr5I, a digital guide for small and minority businesses that explains ways to become certified and how to do business with the county and recommends contract opportunities with county agencies.
“This administration has gone all-in and doubled-down on its commitment to the utilization of county-based small and minority business,” Butler said.
Slightly more than 100 people from the business community joined the virtual launch, raising questions that included the length of the approval process needed to become a mentor or protégé (14 business days) and whether limits on the total number of contracts that could be awarded in a fiscal year have been established (none have been set).
Melissa Peterson, CEO with Blue Sky Innovative Solutions headquartered in Upper Marlboro, asked if the county program has been “deconflicted” with the federal Small Business Administration’s guidance. In other words, if federal regulations would force a smaller business affiliated or supported by a large business to “take on the size of the large business when it comes to federal procurement.” aid.
Butler said that rule wouldn’t be applicable on the county level and not affect the program, “but that’s an interesting thought, though.”
For businesses interested in the program and for more information on the procedures, visit https://bit.ly/3zytD0M.