GBC Emerging Business Council discusses small business challenges and strategies

The Greater Baltimore Committee held its first Emerging Business Council meeting on May 22. Members of the newly formed council and representatives from Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) and BB&T Bank discussed small business challenges and strategies to help better prepare for success in the Baltimore region.

Samuel Lloyd, DBED assistant secretary for small business, explained to members the new role the state will take in supporting small business throughout the region. Brant Standridge, senior vice president of BB&T Bank, addressed the challenges of emerging business from a financial perspective.

“Our goal is to bring real value by connecting small businesses with existing government resources,” said Lloyd. The new small business division was created by the state this year with the goal of becoming the focal point for connecting businesses to both public and private sector resources.

However, the state does not want to compete with existing business resources within the community, Lloyd asserted. DBED will be assigning small business associates throughout the state to establish a critical link between incubators and small business.

The state will also provide guidance and counseling on issues such as acquisitions and mergers, strategic planning and succession, finances, workforce planning and educational development. The DBED small business division plans to be fully staffed in three to six months.

From a financial perspective, BB&T’s Standridge emphasized that emerging business success relies on having a strong attorney, CPA and banker, along with a quality business plan.

Several other important issues for small business managers include attracting and maintaining a quality workforce and coping with the rising costs in health care which are sometimes overlooked. If these issues are not handled properly, it can negatively impact a business’ success, Standridge warned.

The GBC’s Emerging Business Council provides assistance through development programs, networking opportunities, regular meetings, and a resource guide to small businesses and entrepreneurs who are members of the GBC. In order to be a part of the Emerging Business Council, a company must have fewer than 50 employees, or have been in business fewer than five years.

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