GBC Bridging the Gap Award event draws 300; eight companies honored

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More than 300 Baltimore-area business executives honored eight companies on November 28 as winners of the Greater Baltimore Committee’s 2006 Bridging the Gap Awards. The third annual awards event recognized minority-owned and women-owned firms for achievement and others for their efforts to strengthen minority business opportunities in the Baltimore region.

Minority-owned business winners range from a successful private-duty caregiver service that began in its founder’s Baltimore basement to the African-American-owned company that is performing the demolition work for Baltimore’s east-side life sciences park and neighborhood revitalization project. Winners also include two major construction companies that proactively cultivate minority-owned subcontractors and partners as part of their day-to-day business operations.

The November 28 awards ceremony was held at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture. 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.

“By honoring successful minority and women-owned businesses and others in our region who show strong commitment to diversity, we underscore the economic case for making minority business development a high priority,” said GBC President Donald C. Fry. “Our region’s economic future depends on all of its business resources being fully-engaged.”

Categories and winners of the 2006 Bridging the Gap Awards are:

Achievement by a minority business:
Brown & Sheehan, LLP, Michael A. Brown, partner. A minority-owned 13-attorney law firm in Baltimore, Brown & Sheehan’s practice areas include business and financial law, insurance defense, employment law, construction law, government representation and product liability.

Correct RX Pharmacy Services, Inc., Ellen H. Yankellow, president and CEO. This three-year-old, woman-owned firm’s founder is considered a leader in correctional institutional pharmacy. Its pharmacy distribution facility and clinical care department in Linthicum has drawn wide praise within the pharmacy industry.

Cynergy Group of Baltimore, Terri Merz, president and CEO. This firm’s president combined her Navy experience in computer science and her knack for discovering computer system vulnerabilities to lead her four-year-old company to success in the male-dominated field of security engineering in the defense industry.

P & J Contracting Company, Inc., Pless B. Jones, Sr., founder and president. This 27-year-old African American-owned Baltimore contracting firm recently won the $8 million contract to perform the demolition of 500 properties on Baltimore’s east side to make way for a massive neighborhood revitalization and the Science and Technology Park at Johns Hopkins.

WeCare Private Duty Services, Inc., Geraldine Diggs, founder and CEO. After working for more than 30 years in a hospital and also as a private-duty caregiver, this firm’s founder started the business in her Baltimore basement 11 years ago. Her company now manages 300 private independent contractor caregivers and serves 180 clients.

Commitment to inclusive business practices:

Hensel Phelps Construction Company, Jerry L. Morgansen, CEO. This Colorado-based construction company with a division in Chantilly, Va., devotes significant time and resources to cultivating minority-owned subcontractors and business partners. The company routinely assists emerging minority contractors with obtaining financing and bonding, and with staff training. Maryland projects have included renovations at the Social Security Administration in Woodlawn, and terminal expansion at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Business partnerships or strategic alliances:

Whiting-Turner Contracting Company and Commercial Interiors, Inc. This partnership has successfully teamed an established, 100 year-old contracting company with a 16-year-old minority-owned interior finishing and general contracting business on numerous high-profile projects including the Arundel Mills Mall, the Morgan State University Fine Arts Center, and the Hippodrome Theatre at the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center.

Award winners were selected from nominations submitted by businesses, civic organizations, employees, customers, elected officials and government agencies.

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