Twelve firms named winners of Greater Baltimore Committee’s 2007 ‘Bridging the Gap’ minority business awards

Twelve companies have been named as winners of the Greater Baltimore Committee’s 2007 Bridging the Gap Awards honoring 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 real estate management company that began in its founder’s basement to the second largest circulated African American women’s magazine in the country. Winners also include two financial institutions and a real estate developer that proactively cultivate minority-owned subcontractors and partners as part of their day-to-day business operations.

“It was truly an honor to receive such an impressive award from GBC,” said woman-owned business winner Mary Kraft, CEO, Mary Kraft & Associates. “If we are to continue growth in our business community it is important for all companies; major corporations, small, minority, and woman owned businesses, to work together to build for the future.”

“This award is a great honor to all the employees at MKA and offers encouragement to every member of my team to move forward in bringing staffing solutions to the outstanding companies in the Baltimore Business Community while providing employment opportunities to the citizens in our area,” said Kraft. “Thank you for your dedication to GBC, the business community and the citizens of the Baltimore region.”

Winners were announced during a November 15 awards ceremony 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 and CEO, Donald C. Fry. “Our region’s economic future depends on all of its business resources being fully-engaged.”

Categories and winners of the 2007 Bridging the Gap Awards are:

Achievement by a minority-owned or women-owned business:

  • Mary Kraft & Associates, Mary Kraft, CEO. A woman-owned and operated staffing company. Mary Kraft & Associates has become a leading source of temporary, “temp-to-perm” and permanent staffing. The firm employs more than 600 temporary staff and maintains a database of more than 800 qualified applicants. Last year, the company’s revenues exceeded $5 million.
  • Heart & Soul Enterprises LLC, Edwin Avent, President, CEO & Publisher. Edwin Avent purchased a national health and fitness magazine out of bankruptcy in 2004 and built the company from $90,000 in sales in 2005 to $1.1 million in 2006. Today, Heart and Soul is the nation’s second largest circulated African American women’s magazine in the country, with a circulation of over 300,000 and a readership of over 1.5 million.
  • Modern Medical Products, Inc., Ernest M. Soden III, CEO. Modern Medical Products, Inc. has survived 8 years in a market dominated by hospital prime vendor conglomerates by strategically serving a niche in Baltimore’s healthcare marketplace. It has provided a vehicle for major area hospitals such as the University of Maryland Medical Center, Johns Hopkins and the LifeBridge Health hospitals to do business locally while creating jobs and staying within their supply chains. It has grown from $100,000 to $1.5 million in annual revenue and has plans for the addition of its new retail home care store in Park Heights.
  • Telecommunications Systems, Inc., Maurice B. Tosé, CEO. TCS began as a systems integrator business in 1987. The company entered the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) business development program in 1989 and graduated from the program in 1998. Tosé has grown the company to a $145 million publicly traded, mission-critical wireless technology company that employ more than 500 people in multi-state locations and has an international presence in six countries. 
  • The Signature Group, Annie L. Burton-Byrd, CEO. In 2001, Signature Management Group began with just one client. Now, the real estate management company has more than 200 clients throughout the country. Signature, which began in the basement of Burton-Byrd’s home, currently manages more than 400 commercial and residential properties and a brokerage firm specializing in commercial, investment and residential sales.

Commitment to inclusive business practices:

  • Deloitte & Touche, Bruce C. Arensmeier, Partner. Deloitte & Touche, a financial management and counseling firm, has demonstrated a solid focus on diversity initiatives and is committed to developing a supplier portfolio that reflects the demographic diversity of the marketplace. Deloitte created a Federal Business Reserve program that works with small minority owned businesses to secure contracts with large federal agencies. Deloitte was recently ranked number 19 on the Diversity Inc. 2007 Top 50 companies for diversity.
  • M&T Bank, Atwood ‘Woody’ Collins III, President and COO. M&T Bank is committed to diversity and serving minority businesses. In early 2006, M&T Bank formed its own Diversity Business Group that reaches out to the minority business community through a series of seminars and presentations designed to help minority businesses grow. M&T ranked No. 1 among banks in the nation by Black Enterprise magazine for percent of SBA loans made to African American-owned firms. Among M&T’s many awards is a 2007 Diversity Trailblazer Award presented at the Black CEO Summit in Baltimore. M&T Bank is actively involved in groups that serve minority populations.
  • Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, Bill Struever, CEO. Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse (SBER) not only seeks out minority and women-owned business contractors on SBER projects, but also helps develop these companies so they will be able to obtain additional work from other general contractors and developers. SBER provides business resources and classes to support minority and woman-owned contractors and has developed a mentor-protégé program where a minority developer meets regularly with an SBER executive to learn more about the development business.

Business partnerships or strategic alliances:

  • Clark Construction and Banks Construction (Peter C. Forster, CEO, Clark Construction; Kenneth Banks, President, Banks Construction). The Clark/Banks joint venture is working to construct The Johns Hopkins Hospital’s new clinical building, a $560 million construction project in Baltimore. Currently, the new clinical building is the largest construction project in the state of Maryland and the largest health care project in the nation.
  • University of Maryland Medical System and Black Classics Press (Edmond Notebaert, President & CEO, University of Maryland Medical System; W. Paul Coates, President, Black Classics Press). Since 1997, Black Classics Press Digital Printing has worked in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) to deliver document reproduction services to the UMMC community. UMMC leadership team has been open, consistently supportive and sensitive to the needs of Black Classics Press. The partnership has enabled Black Classics Press has leveraged its state of the art equipment and knowledgeable staff to provide solutions that meet the needs of UMMC.

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


Photo Gallery




Comments are closed.