During the economic uncertainty of the global pandemic, the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. stepped up to help local minority- and women-owned businesses rebound from the effects of the pandemic. Focusing on their core needs, over 800 local entrepreneurs were supported through PGCEDC’s programs, including the Pathways to Growth and Expansion initiative, the C-Suite Accelerator Program, Emerge Stronger and the Step Forward Initiative.
These business training programs were designed to help uplift business owners during this difficult time, fitting PGCEDC’s message: “Expansion Starts Here,” said David Iannucci, president and CEO of PGCEDC.
“In 2021 and 2022, the team at PGCEDC focused not just on financial relief and recovery efforts from Covid, but also worked hard to encourage heightened entrepreneurial efforts, including fostering new business startups and expanding businesses in the county,” he said.
Iannucci added that he believes that providing small businesses with resources and tools to help them “avoid costly mistakes and pitfalls” will help the local business community continue to grow.
“Our business development team members are consistently assisting CEOs, developers and brokers to find, finance and build job-creating businesses here in the county,” he said.
One of the programs that helped over 275 individuals gain knowledge about financing expansion and lease agreements was the Pathways to Business Growth and Expansion program, which offered courses in English and Spanish.
“The Pathways to Growth and Expansion program allowed us to help local businesses successfully navigate the challenges facing their companies, whether it’s formulating a plan for growth, managing their workforce, getting a loan, buying or selling real estate and everything in between,” said David Anderson, chief operating officer of Lerch, Early & Brewer, a law firm that helps middle-market businesses in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. “It’s an invaluable resource for those looking to find practical answers to their critical business questions.”
In an effort to continue to help aspiring business leaders accelerate their careers, PGCEDC also launched the C-Suite Accelerator Program. Over a five-month period, more than 80 companies participated in business coaching through multisession groups and individual programs. The participants were also given C-suite mentorship sessions to further hone their skills.
“The C-Suite Program was very eye-opening,” said Francene Lobban, CEO of Cene Beauty, an eyebrow and eyelash beauty salon in Prince George’s County. “The professionals helped me to understand the fundamentals needed to start and operate a business. We also discussed the importance of a solid business structure, how to scale your business the right way and understanding your numbers such as profit margins, income and expenditure. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone wanting to start a business because it has made a difference in the way I now operate my business.”
Robin Hamilton, founder and principal of ARound Robin Production Co., a nonprofit film production company, commended PGCEDC for being supportive of her small business, especially with the challenges that come with being a small-business owner.
“Having these resources gave me direction and helped me address blind spots in terms of how I was running my company — and what I could be doing better, ” she said.
In more recent months, as the impacts of the pandemic began to ease, PGCEDC has continued to support small businesses.
In April, PGCEDC launched the Webinar Wednesday series, providing financing information and coaching from FSC First, a nonprofit lending partner that creates financial solutions for small and minority-owned businesses in Prince George’s County. More than 70 companies attended these virtual sessions — which were also offered in both English and Spanish — and covered employment strategies, workforce information, marketing and MBE certification process information with the help of the Maryland Department of Commerce, Maryland Department of Labor and the Maryland Small Business Development Center.
In July, PGCEDC’s Step Forward Initiative saw its first collective of 10 minority women entrepreneurs graduate. The Wells Fargo-sponsored program helps set businesswomen up for success in the county. The rigorous, six-month program offered various workshops that aligned with women-owned business goals. EDC’s Financial Services and Small Business Services Managers provided financial literacy mentoring and business operations coaching. Some of the topics the guest speakers covered included identifying loan package deficiencies, preparing a completed loan application package to submit for funding, and receiving lender preapproval for loan applications.
PGCEDC Executive Vice President Ebony Stocks said the Step Forward Initiative is “just the beginning” of helping new minority- and women-owned businesses and established businesses navigate through the challenges of acquiring capital.
The effect of the programming on Prince George’s County-based businesses has been transformative and substantial to people such as Sherrie Brown, founder of Savvy Scents, who was able to switch careers by starting a scent-based business with her sister at the height of the pandemic. Before the transition, she was working a job that had her traveling overseas frequently.
“My sister and I started a business on the side and applying the things I learned from the cohort, I met with a credit union and recently signed contracts to have my products in store,” she said. “This really did help me.”
For more information about PGCEDC’s initiatives and programs for small businesses, visit www.pgcedc.com.
This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
Studio B is Bisnow’s in-house content and design studio. To learn more about how Studio B can help your team, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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