BRAC Study Finds Pros and Cons for Small Businesses


ANNAPOLIS (Nov. 1, 2008)—Despite obstacles, Maryland's small and minority-owned businesses are likely to obtain more government contracts in the coming years, according to a BRAC study released Friday.

The Maryland BRAC Small and Minority Business Opportunities Study, released by Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown at an annual conference of the Legislative Black Caucus, said that more government contracts will be available with the closure of Fort Monmouth, N.J., and the moving of military information technology and communications activities to Fort Meade.

But there are challenges for small businesses competing for government contracts.

"There is a negative perception ... of the capabilities of small and minority businesses," said Luwanda Jenkins, special secretary for the Governor's Office of Minority Affairs.

The study "seeks to identify BRAC contract opportunities and provide useful insight that will assist small and minority firms with access to new BRAC related business leads," Jenkins wrote in the report.

BRAC, or Base Realignment and Closure, is the process the Department of Defense uses to reorganize military bases. In 2007, Gov. Martin O'Malley established the BRAC Subcabinet to plan for growth that will hit Maryland as a result of the realignment.

It is estimated that BRAC will bring approximately 60,000 new jobs and 28,000 new households to Maryland in the coming years.

Although there are new opportunities for contracts in the future, many small businesses believe they face challenges in winning them. According to the study, 29 percent of small businesses reported having a 20 percent or less success rate in obtaining government contracts.

"The number one challenge is how small firms ... compete on large scale contracts," said Jenkins, in a telephone interview.

According to the study, a survey of government procurement officers found that many small businesses felt they were not competent enough to compete for contracts and were overshadowed by well-known businesses.

Jenkins stressed that the key to combating this was for small and minority businesses to create strong relationships with large contractors.

One of the strong advantages that Maryland small and minority businesses have is their close proximity to Washington, which allows firms many opportunities to experience work with federal contracts.

"We want the business community to prepare," said Jenkins. "It is invaluable to provide a real window [into government contracts] for small businesses."

Brown said Maryland has one of the highest percentages of African-American and women-owned businesses. Despite the large numbers, Brown said the percentage of minority businesses that work on government contracts can increase with help. "We are maintaining our commitment to small businesses," said Brown, in a telephone interview, stressing the importance of continuing to work with the state legislature to provide opportunities for small and minority businesses.

Press Release from the Office of Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown

ANNAPOLIS (Oct. 31, 2008)—Lt. Governor Brown released the Maryland BRAC Small and Minority Business Opportunities Study today at the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland’s Annual Conference.

The study, commissioned by the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development’s Division of Small Business, identified current level of procurement opportunities available in Maryland’s federal and military installations, and projected procurement increases associated with BRAC.

“Two years ago, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) decisions tasked our state with a new responsibility. We have taken on an expanded role as a national leader in our homeland defense,” said

Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. BRAC will bring 60,000 new jobs and 28,000 new households to Maryland.

“New challenges arise with new responsibility, but also new opportunities, especially for businesses, including small and minority firms that will generate jobs. Maryland is prepared and ready for the single-largest job creation in our state since the end of the Second World War,” said Lt. Governor. Maryland businesses have received $36.9 billion in federal procurement dollars of which 27.6 percent went to small businesses, and out of the 27.6 percent, 18 percent went to women-owned and only 4.8 percent went to minority firms.

The report surveyed current and potential procurement opportunities for small and minority owned businesses in the State of Maryland and found that these businesses are well positioned to increase their procurement activity with federal and military installations in and around Maryland, particularly with Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort G. Meade.

The closure of Fort Monmouth in New Jersey and the move of DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency) from Virginia to Fort Meade, indicate that procurement previously occurring in these areas would present increased opportunities for Maryland small businesses. However, the study also found that these businesses face numerous challenges competing for the contracts and need assistance in overcoming obstacles associated with accessing BRAC related opportunities. Maryland is home to over 450,000 small and minority businesses, and they employ nearly 50 percent of the State’s workforce.

The Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs (GOMA) is one of 10-Cabinet agencies which serve on the Governor’s Subcabinet on BRAC. GOMA, as an extension of its mission to assist minority firms in seeking state procurement opportunities, is the lead agency working to facilitate minority business inclusion in Maryland’s BRAC effort.

“BRAC presents unprecedented opportunity for Maryland’s small and minority owned firms. Through our office working in partnership with other small and minority business resource groups we are working to ensure that Maryland’s minority firms are ready and positioned to take full advantage of BRAC related business coming to Maryland. This study provides invaluable information that will assist small and minority owned firms to plan strategically”, said Luwanda Jenkins, Special Secretary, Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs.

The Small Business and Minority Business Opportunities Study was a collaborative effort between RESI, Towson University, Bowie State University, and the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC); and funded by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. A full copy of the study is available on the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs’ website at

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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