September Small Biz Bulletin

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Small Biz Bulletin

September 1, 2020

Special Secretary Jimmy Rhee

Message from Special Secretary Rhee

Training Moves to Virtual Platform

The new academic year is ready to begin, and for many school systems across Maryland, it will begin on a virtual platform. Virtual learning is not new, but the broad application of this format is still being refined by educators, students, and parents alike. Here at the Governor's Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, we have a lot to learn, too, as we move our Technical Training Classroom to the Zoom webinar platform. I work with a passionate team of men and women who are eager to share insights on the procurement process in order to help small businesses compete with confidence. Like many of you, they are learning new skills and adapting old ones. They want to make the online classroom a meaningful experience for what we anticipate will be a larger audience. Our live classroom was limited to 60 participants, but the virtual platform allows for up to 500 guests. Geography is no longer a barrier. I invite you to join us on September 22nd when we present "State Procurement 101." We're planning to bring our A game! (See next story for complete details.)

Jimmy Rhee
Special Secretary

For Your Business

TTC 2020 Classroom

Technical Training Classroom Returns

We are very happy to resume our Technical Training Classroom program this month. We are moving to the Zoom webinar virtual platform and are looking forward to welcoming up to 500 guests. Join us on Tuesday, September 22 @ 10 am for "State Procurement 101." This class is for small businesses that have little or no knowledge of the state procurement process. We'll focus on common procurement terminology, examine how the state contracting arena operates, and provide resources to help you determine if pursuing work in the public sector would be beneficial to your company. There is no cost to attend, but you must register in advance.

State Procurement 101


Work Sharing

Work Sharing - A Better Alternative to Layoffs

Maryland has had a Work Sharing Unemployment Insurance Program in place since 1984. Administered by the Department of Labor, the program is designed to avoid layoffs by preserving jobs for current employees and to assist businesses that have already undertaken layoffs to reopen and resume operations. It is a voluntary program. Employers who participate can retain employees by temporarily reducing the hours of work, within a range of 20% to 50%, The employees with reduced work hours receive partial unemployment insurance benefits to supplement lost wages. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, this program is growing in popularity and Governor Hogan recently announced that 223 businesses have been approved for the program. Work Sharing can mitigate the adverse effects of the current economic crisis and serve as a means of bringing most or all of a temporarily laid-off workforce back to the job, even if social-distancing measures, a decline in business, or other factors prevent operating at full staffing levels immediately. Employers must have a minimum of two employees of an affected unit in the Work Sharing plan in order to participate. Visit the Work Sharing web page for complete details. 

Work Sharing - A Layoff Aversion and Reopening Unemployment Insurance Program


Business Forecast

State's Procurement Forecast is Powerful Business Intelligence Tool

The State of Maryland’s Procurement Forecast for Fiscal Year 2021 is now available on the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs website.The database is populated with solicitations of $100,000 or greater expected to be advertised or awarded through June 30, 2021. It comprises both new and recurring items, including task orders issued under master contracts. Users can choose from six different options to focus their search. By downloading search results to Excel, expanded data is provided, such as the buyer’s name and contact information. It is a powerful business intelligence tool for small, minority, women, and veteran business owners as it provides insight on what is likely to be coming down the pipeline. Small businesses are also looking for contracting opportunities below $100,000. As a result, many state agencies also include information on projected contracts between $15,000 and $99,999. Projects with lower thresholds are a great entry point for firms looking to break into the state contracting arena. Use the link below to visit the Procurement Forecast Portal today.

Procurement Forecast Portal

Gerald Stinnett

Open for Business and Working from Home

Introducing Gerald Stinnett

I have been a resident of Howard County for over 25 years and most of my free time these days is spent with my son, who is entering his senior year of high school, explore colleges. We've been able to make live visits to several Maryland schools, and are taking virtual tours of those out-of-state. I am a tech guy, so I appreciate the way these schools have been able to utilize technology to make the virtual experience memorable. I serve on the communication ministry at New Psalmist Baptist Church as a camera operator and technical director, and I have an appreciation for how hard that task can be. Thanks to technology, I can effectively do my job from home, but I miss interacting with all of you. In my role as the MBE Compliance Manager of VLT Operations, I work with casino operators and small business owners. Much of my work involves collecting and reporting data, but I also help connect vendors with buyers at Maryland's six casinos. I really enjoy attending outreach events where I can talk with business owners face-to-face. It's very rewarding when I can facilitate the connection between a small business owner and a casino operator, and then see the business expand as a result of that relationship. I work very closely with colleagues at the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency and value the support they give to small, minority, women, and veteran business owners. In this time when everyone has to pivot, we are all doing our jobs differently. Operating in a pandemic takes a lot of ingenuity and resilience for businesses of all sizes and in every industry. We are all trying to navigate this new environment in the way that is best for us. For me, that means I've spent much more time at home and indoors this summer than in years' past. One thing I like about being home is spending more time in the kitchen. I actually do all the cooking for my wife and son. I'm using this time to sharpen my skills with some of the great tips I've learned from the chefs I've met at the casinos. I hope you're spending some of your time this summer doing something you enjoy as well.


Mark Your Calendar

In this new environment of social distancing, everyone is adapting. Today's seminars are webinars, Zoom meetings, Facebook Live events, Google Meets, and more. If you have a smart phone or a computer, you have what you need to tap into these valuable training and information sessions. Capacity can fill quickly, so sign up early when required to do so.

09/09/2020 - Developing Early Stage Financial Statements
09/09/2020 - Government Procurement Series #1 - Finding Federal Contracting Opportunities
09/10/2020 - Leaders in Diversity
09/11/2020 - Steps to Start Your Business
09/15/2020 - Government Procurement Series #2 - Finding Opportunities to Fill the Pipeline
09/16/2020 - Develop Your Business Plan
09/22/2020 - State Procurement 101
09/23/2020 - Government Procurement Series #3: How to Qualify Opportunities for Your Pipeline
09/29/2020 - Government Procurement Series #4 - How to Develop a Proposal Outline

Check out our full listing of small business events
online at

COVID-19 Business Resources