The Southern Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce (SMBCC) Board and Officers have long recognized the need for such a group, thus served as the proponents to establish it – Janice Wilson, Board Chair; Reginald Kearney, 1st Vice Chair; Guy Black, 2nd Vice Chair; Doris J. Cammack Spencer, President/CEO; Mike Moses, 1st Vice President; Dawn Tucker, 2nd Vice President; Agnes Butler, Secretary; and Joyce Freeland, Treasurer. The SMBCC was chartered on June 7, 2012 and held its Inaugural Event, An Announcement Reception, at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in Waldorf, Md. June 28th.
Over one-hundred-fifty (150) people were in attendance; they were black, white, young and not so young. They included local officials and organizations, Congressional Representatives, business owners, entrepreneurs, mainstream Chambers of Commerce and other Black Chambers of Commerce; Greater Baltimore and Prince George’s County Black chambers of Commerce. In addition, the Charles County State Attorney, the Maryland Commission on Women, the Concerned Black Women of Calvert County, and the Southern Maryland Tri-County Council. Delegate Barbara Robinson, Baltimore, Legislative District 40, and Chair of the Legislation in the State of Maryland (LITSOM) statewide organization was the Guest Speaker.
The Board Chair, Janice Wilson, during her opening remarks, stated that the SMBCC was an inclusive organization, so everyone and organization that supports its mission was invited to become a member. Reuben Collins, Vice President of the Charles County Board of Commissioners, during his remarks, stated that it was an historic event. The air in the room was wonderful, with everyone giving their congratulations. . Cammack Spencer, commented that “looking out at the attendees was truly a wonderful experience, as it represented what the Black Chamber hopes to achieve, everyone working together to achieve a common goal”. “As the African-American population in the tri-county region continues to grow, so has the need for it to have a bigger voice – both at a community and a commercial level,” Cammack-Spencer, said. “Seeing how quickly black businesses and our supporters are organizing around growing opportunities is extremely encouraging. Now that the call to black firms has gone out, we are looking to immediately increase our membership and help create the right environment for our members to flourish. To that end, we are at the right place at the right time to work with private and public sector organizations.”
Cammack-Spencer also stated that the primary objective of SMBCC is to be a part of the solution for leveling the playing field. And, that the SMBCC is aware that most large companies have Diversity Supplier mandates; however, often are unable to meet their Diversity goals because the businesses on their lists don’t have the skills needed to fulfill the requirement. The SMBCC hopes to support these companies’ desire to meet their goals by helping them locate qualified black businesses that are not on their list and working with them to development programs that assist black small businesses with building capacity to address the skills shortfall.
The Guest Speaker, Delegate Robinson, stated that Black Chambers are cropping up all over the state because, like the SMBCC, to focus on the issues unique to black businesses.
Verizon, along with GS Proctor & Associates, Inc. and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, were the event sponsors. Tabb Bishop, Vice President, State Government Affairs, Verizon Mid-Atlantic Region, represented his company at the affair. “With all of the growth taking place in Southern Maryland, this is an exciting time for the area generally and for the minority business community in particular,” Bishop said. “The chamber’s inaugural event was attended by impressive and enthusiastic black businesses. With Verizon being committed to diversity, which stretches across all areas of the company from supplier diversity, to our base of management and associate employees, customers and more, supporting the launch of a new chamber with a diversity focus was a natural and we are confident that it will make a difference, ” he added.
“I welcome the Southern Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce coming on-line to assist black businesses, which have long been a staple in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties. I will be able to receive support from the organization’s leaders and my peers in the chamber and that will strengthen us all – individually and as an entire group. The mood in the room was positive and everyone there was glad they attended that night and even happier that the chamber is a reality,” said Edsel M. Brown, Jr., Principal, Edsel M. Brown, Jr., – Advisors, a Insurance, Retirement, Financial Services firm in Lexington Park, Maryland – St. Mary’s County.
Steve Proctor, President and CEO of GS Proctor & Associates, one of the event sponsors, stated that he was truly pleased with the establishment of the Black Chamber and supports it 100%. Betsy Bossart, Region Director for Congressman Hoyer, Legislative District five (5), stated that it was a great event.
“Please know that I, and the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs, strongly supports the SMBCC as it has the Southern Maryland Consortium of African American Community Organizations over the past several years. If there is any opportunity for GOMA to partner with SMBCC in the future, please let me know,” said Zenita Hurley, Special Secretary, Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs.
It is evident from the enthusiasm and interest at the kick off reception for the Southern Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce, that their mission of educating, engaging and empowering our local minority business community through programs, activities and advocacy is meeting a need. Our office supports these efforts and looks forward to working with them.
Hooray, states Annette Funn, Co-Founder of the Concerned Black Women (CBW) Calvert County, Maryland. “The Southern Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce organization is a welcome economic benchmark to Southern Maryland to help enhance training and to expand ‘how to’ skills for new and mature businesses. What took you so long to organize? Congratulations from all of CBW.”
Charter Memberships are available through August 31, 2012.