On Friday, October 13, DSFederal was pleased to host Jimmy Rhee, Maryland's Special Secretary for Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs, a Coordinating Office within the Office of the Governor. Secretary Rhee attended a presentation delivered by our Training Practice Area, offering valuable insight and advice.
We spoke with Alison Tavik, the Office's Director of Communications, who explained that the Office supports small businesses in two ways: First, by connecting small businesses with opportunities (especially contracting opportunities with the state government); and secondly, by monitoring and enforcing compliance with the state's small business procurement programs:
1. The Small Business Reserve (SBR) program, a race- and gender-neutral program dedicated to connecting small businesses with prime contracting opportunities.
2. The Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) program, which establishes participation goals for subcontracting with minority- and women-owned businesses. The MBE program requires prime contractors to seek minority- and women-owned businesses to serve as subcontractors on state contracts.
Ms. Tavik notes that Maryland helped to lead the way for government support of minority- and women-owned businesses--Maryland's MBE program, established in 1978, was one of the first such state-level programs in the United States. Although the state has not consistently met the ambitious goal of 29% MBE participation in state subcontracts, the Governor's office is committed to supporting MBEs and to making continued progress toward that goal.
Secretary Rhee is an advocate for small business, and spends much of his time visiting businesses, trade groups, chambers of commerce, and industry organizations, especially those dedicated to minority- and women-owned businesses. He urges all small businesses--from incubator-based research and development firms to small construction companies, and even family restaurants--to think creatively, disrupt the status quo, and discover new ways to change the way that business is done.
As a proud graduate of the Small Business Administration's 8(a) program, and a Top 100 MBE, DSFederal is firmly committed to the inclusive business practices championed by Secretary Rhee. "DSFederal's employee population is over 60% female, and most of our employees are also racial or ethnic minority members," says DSFederal CEO Sophia Parker. "Our diversity makes us strong."