Governor's Office of Minority Affairs
Small  Business  Bulletin - January 2017
Message from the Secretary
The New Year is here and most of us are thinking about the future. Are you starting an exercise program, tackling projects around the house, or giving more time to your favorite nonprofit organization? All are worthy endeavors. If you want to increase your odds for success, be sure your plan aligns with who you are. If a hammer is an instrument of destruction in your hands, leave it in the tool belt and go with exercising or volunteering.

The same is true for business owners. Before you can drive the future of your business, you have to know the answer to one core question: What type of business are you operating? I think there are two kinds: the disruptors and the providers. The Ford Motor Company was a disruptor. Henry Ford's assembly line production system turned the automobile into something everyone could afford, created jobs for lots of people, and had a positive impact on the economy. Today's disruptors are the Ubers and Airbnb's of the world. They are thriving in our on-demand economy, creating freelance jobs from an empty bedroom or an idle car.

Then there are the providers. These are the businesses that make life workable: the restaurants, dry cleaners, pharmacies, builders, retailers, health care providers, gardeners, repair shops, and plumbers (just to name a few) that take care of our daily needs. You'll find them in virtually every community and competition is fierce, so they are continually looking for ways to do ordinary things in extraordinary ways. Some grow to be large employers, but far more serve their customers as small businesses with just a few employees.

Which type of business are you running? The answer to that question should drive your future with regard to developing your core competency, financing your business' needs, and understanding the policies that impact your competitive space. 

Jimmy Rhee
Special Secretary
Business Ombudsman
Governor Larry Hogan has appointed Randall K. Nixon as Small Business Ombudsman. He fills the vacancy created by Roger Campos, who recently became Assistant Secretary at the Department of Housing and Community Development. Mr. N ixon has more than 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur and small business owner in Maryland. As an attorney and president of three successful companies, which he operated simultaneously, Mr. Nixon will share his strategic planning, business development, training, leadership, and business plan implementation skills as he works with small business owners across the state.

"Randall is an excellent choice for this important role because he has seen firsthand the challenges many business owners face," said Governor Hogan. "I have every confidence that he will work hard to ensure that state government is responsive to the needs of business owners throughout our great state."

The Business Ombudsman is responsible for resolving problems encountered by businesses interacting with state agencies and facilitating responsiveness to business needs. The ombudsman maintains a central clearinghouse of business assistance programs and connects businesses with services or assistance programs. Mr. Nixon will collect and report data to the governor and General Assembly  regarding trends that create barriers to business growth, and work with the appropriate stakeholders to develop smart, lasting solutions. 

Mr. Nixon's office is co-located with the Governor's Office of Minority Affairs in Crownsville. The two work collaboratively in support of the small business community. 
If you have an issue for the Ombudsman, you can reach Mr. Nixon directly at 410-697-9726 or
For Your Business
Board of Public Works
Did you know that Maryland's Board of Public Works (BPW) is a unique component of American government? Composed of the governor, the comptroller, and the treasurer, the BPW protects and enhances the state's fiscal integrity by ensuring that significant expenditures are necessary and appropriate, fiscally responsible, fair, and lawful.
Although a few cities have a variation of our BPW,
there is no federal or state entity like it. The process ensures transparency, a topic that is highly valued within the Hogan-Rutherford administration. The BPW will fulfill its duties to the citizens by hearing how our 24 school districts intend to spend taxpayer dollars at the next meeting on January 25. All BPW meetings are open to the public and streamed live. Meeting documents are posted online, typically 10 days in advance. If you're interested in doing business with the State of Maryland, we encourage you to tap into this open and transparent resource. It's a great way to gain an insightful understanding of procurement and contracting processes.

Know Your Elected Officials
The 2017 session of the Maryland General Assembly is underway. Our 47 districts are represented by 47 senators and 141 delegates. This body will review approximately 2,500 pieces of legislation during the 90-day session and many of them will have a direct impact on your business. Stay informed and be sure your elected officials know exactly how you feel about the legislation they are considering. There are lots of ways to stay in touch: visit their websites, subscribe to their social media channels, or call, email, write, or visit their offices. You should also consider joining the legislative committee of your local chamber or professional organization. And if a particular bill really captures your interest, offer to serve as an informal (and unpaid) advisor or consider testifying during the legislative process.  There is absolutely no better voice for your business than you! If you don't know your legislators or just need their contact information, use the Find Your Elected Officials link below. You can also visit the Maryland General Assembly webpage to read the synopsis of new legislation as it is presented. We'll be monitoring all legislation for its impact on the business community, particularly small and minority- and women-owned businesses, so keep an eye on our website. You can also read updates right here in upcoming issues of the Small Business Bulletin.

What's Your Resolution?
Statistics do not favor the probability of accomplishing a New Year's resolution, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't at least try. A resolution is a conscious decision to do or not do something. Typically the resolution is an effort to break a bad habit or add a good one. Small business owners are always looking for a better way to do ... well, everything. There's no shortage of advice on ways to make 2017 a stand-out year. Here are just a few:
Check out our full range of small, minority, and women
business resources at  
Maryland is OPEN for Business, and the Governor's Office of Minority Affairs empowers small, minority, and women businesses to compete with confidence in the public and private sectors. Visit our website at to learn more.