Blog post by Kelly M. Schulz
Kelly M. Schulz brings a wealth of knowledge to the Maryland Department of Commerce from her years of experience working in the government, in the private sector and as a small business owner. She had previously served as the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) since her confirmation in February 2015 and is also a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates. She was appointed Secretary of the Maryland Department of Commerce in January 2019.
Every day, our Maryland Commerce team works closely with small businesses on a variety of issues. Whether helping with workforce needs, connecting them with a new customer or partner, or making them aware of the many state and federal programs that can help them grow, we want to see them succeed.
One of the most important things the Hogan administration has done to make doing business in Maryland easier was the creation of a new Regional Resources team and webpage. The team is made up of the state agencies that interact with the business community the most and works to assist businesses and local jurisdictions with a variety of issues, including transportation, workforce development, licensing, planning, and permitting, among others.
The regional resources team is the latest in a series of initiatives designed to make state government easier and more efficient to navigate, as well as more customer friendly. Instead of businesses having to call a number of different state agencies to resolve an issue, the regional resources team offers a “one-stop shop” where a team will focus on addressing a specific issue. Check out the Maryland Regional Resources webpage, housed on the Maryland Business Express site, which offers an easy-to-navigate state map with agency contacts for each region.
We’re also in the process of hiring a new team member at Commerce focused on small business and entrepreneurship. This individual will serve as a resource for the thousands of small businesses across the state and help connect them with programs and tools—both at Commerce and elsewhere.
Commerce also has a toolbox full of loan and financing options and other programs designed specifically for small businesses.
Our Small, Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Loan Fund is funded through the proceeds from video lottery terminals in Maryland casinos to make loans to small businesses – retailers, restaurants, manufacturers, IT firms and others – across the state. We work with eight fund managers around the state and we encourage you to reach out and see how they can help you.
We also administer the Military Personnel and Veteran-Owned Small Business No-Interest Loan Program, which provides no-interest loans of up to $50,000 to businesses owned by or employing military reservists, veterans, and National Guard personnel.
One of our most popular programs is the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority, which we call MSBDFA. This provides funds for entrepreneurs who are socially or economically disadvantaged somehow—so traditional funding methods such as a bank loan might not be available to them.
If one of our financing programs isn’t right for you, our team is happy to offer advice, help you network, answer questions about regulatory issues, or point you to the resources offered by other agencies if they’re a better fit. I encourage you to reach out and see how we can help take your small business to the next level.
The Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Meet the State event is an opportunity to discuss and inform legislators on what we do as a business community to contribute to our economy and the communities in which we live. Click here to register today!