Six Baltimore-area companies, two nonprofits, a majority-minority partnership, and two individuals were named winners of the Greater Baltimore Committee’s 2008 Bridging the Gap Awards.
The awards were presented during October 8 ceremonies honoring minority-owned and women-owned firms for achievement and others for their efforts to strengthen minority business development. The awards event was held at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture.
Winners for outstanding business achievement range from minority-owed information technology firms to a small, woman-owned heavy construction business. Winners also include a major health system, a prominent bank, and a partnership between a national majority-owned development company and a local group of minority-owned developers and builders.
Awards also went to a Baltimore City government executive and a city-based attorney for their separate efforts to cultivate business opportunities for minority-owned and women-owned firms.
The awards program is part of Bridging the Gap, a minority business development initiative of the Greater Baltimore Committee, the region’s most prominent organization of business and civic leaders.
“It is important to shine the spotlight on successful minority-owned and women-owned companies and alliances and to recognize others for their efforts to strengthen opportunities for minority and women entrepreneurs,” said GBC President and CEO, Donald C. Fry. “Through their commitment and success, all of these winners are building a stronger business community in the Baltimore region.”
Categories and winners of the 2008 Bridging the Gap Awards are:
Achievement by a minority or woman-owned business:
- Audacious Inquiry, LLC, Christopher Brandt, managing partner. This management and technology consulting company helps clients leverage vision, alliances and IT systems to create and sustain a competitive advantage.
- BITHGROUP Technologies, Inc., Robert L. Wallace, president & CEO. This IT solutions company puts into practice the strategic partnerships model presented in its CEO’s book on cultivating joint ventures and alliances.
- Caring Through The Spiritual Eye, Inc., Shirell Tyner founder. This firm’s founder conceived her business idea while incarcerated. It weaves spirituality into counseling, community services and a holistic five-step program for substance abuse recovery.
- Project PLASE, Inc., Mary C. Slicher, executive director. This 34-year-old nonprofit’s name is an acronym for People Lacking Ample Shelter and Employment. It offers the homeless services including medical, mental health, and addiction treatment resources.
- Stella May Contracting, Inc., Stella M. Miller, president. The president of this firm has the challenges of being woman-owned in the construction industry to build a successful underground water and sewer and heavy highway construction business.
Commitment to inclusive business practices:
- Johns Hopkins Health System, Kenneth Grant, vice president, general services. Hopkins has empowered Grant to build a vigorous supplier diversity program that identifies minority business opportunities, and provides mentoring and partnering opportunities. One local minority firm’s business with Hopkins grew from $300,000 to more than $1.5 million in three years.
- M&T Bank, Atwood “Woody” Collins III, president & COO. M&T Bank has a strong and substantive commitment to diversity and to serving minority businesses. The bank has a diverse workforce and management team, aggressively recruits at the leading historically black colleges, has several programs to support minority business owners, and is active in groups that serve minority populations.
Business partnerships or strategic alliances:
- East Baltimore Development Inc., Jack Shannon, president & CEO. This private-public nonprofit partnership’s management of the transformation of the city’s east side into a modern community surrounding a new science and technology park has been characterized by a strong commitment to inclusion, diversity and community involvement. It is the first renewal project to address the physical, economic, and human conditions of a neighborhood in one comprehensive plan and is seen as the new model for revitalizing the nation’s cities.
- Forest City-New East Baltimore Partnership, LLC; Forest City: Scott Levitan, senior vice president; Presidential Partners: Art Enterprises, LLC , Owen Tonkins, president; Banks Construction, Kenneth Banks, president; Harrison Development, LLC, Dean Harrison, president & CEO; Lambda Development, Anthony Ambridge and Ron Lipscomb, principals; E. Smith Legacy, Brian Morris, president; The Wilkinson Group, LLC, Dan Wilkinson, CEO. This partnership was formed in 2002 to acquire and transform 31 acres of East Baltimore into a vibrant community, including the Science & Technology Park at Johns Hopkins. The partnership’s work since then has featured a 42 percent minority participation rate – significantly exceeding its goal of 35 percent.
- Thomas B. Corey, Esq., chief, Minority and Women Business Opportunity Office, Baltimore City. Corey has been instrumental in developing resources that strengthen minority and women-owned business opportunities in Baltimore City. His accomplishments include developing the City’s web-based directory of certified MBEs and WBEs and starting the city’s annual Minority Business Enterprise Contractors Fair.
- Franklin M. Lee, Esq., partner, Tydings and Rosenberg, LLP. Lee’s law practice focuses on helping minority and small businesses navigate the intricacies of policies and regulations for obtaining minority-owned, women-owned, and disadvantaged business enterprise certifications from state and local governments. Lee also advises corporate clients about contract compliance with government equal opportunity regulations and commercial non-discrimination policies.
Award winners were selected from nominations submitted by businesses, civic organizations, employees, customers, elected officials and government agencies.