Governor Wes Moore’s Bold Vision for Maryland’s Black Entrepreneurs: A Path to Economic Equity

At the 15th Anniversary Conference MBE Night in Annapolis, Governor Wes Moore delivered a powerful message on advancing economic opportunity for Black entrepreneurs, outlining a visionary plan to close the racial wealth gap and foster equitable economic growth in Maryland.

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Maryland Governor Wes Moore speaks at MBE Night 2024 in Annapolis.
Maryland Governor Wes Moore speaks at MBE Night in Annapolis. (Photos by James Fields) Source - AfroNews

In a stirring address at the 15th Anniversary Conference MBE Night in Annapolis on February 22, 2024, Governor Wes Moore of Maryland laid out a comprehensive and ambitious blueprint for not only advancing economic opportunity for Black entrepreneurs but also tackling the structural inequities that underpin economic disparities in the state. His speech was not just a call to action; it was a roadmap for systemic change, underpinned by a deep understanding of the historical and systemic barriers that have perpetuated racial wealth gaps and economic injustice.

Governor Moore, drawing from his experience in spearheading a prominent poverty-alleviation organization, introduced a distinctive viewpoint to the governor’s role—one shaped by a profound comprehension of the origins of the racial wealth disparity and the governmental influence in its creation and possible resolution.. A ten to one chasm not borne of happenstance but of policy choices. Prior to assuming office as Governor, his program, 90 to Zero, sought to utilize a combination of private and public assets to tackle this disparity, establishing a blueprint for his governance style: precise, evidence-based, and all-encompassing. He highlighted the historical policies that have systematically disadvantaged Black Americans, from the Homestead Act’s exclusionary benefits to racially biased appraisal practices that undervalue properties in Black communities, thereby perpetuating wealth disparities.

The Governor’s address was particularly notable for its emphasis on intentionality in policy-making. Moore emphasized that addressing the racial wealth gap goes beyond mere acknowledgment—it necessitates specific and deliberate actions. This commitment to intentionality is clearly demonstrated by the accomplishments of his administration in its inaugural year, such as the rise in Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) engagement and the successful allocation of $1.4 billion in collaboration with the Board of Public Works towards MBE contracts, a notable $160 million increase despite budget constraints. These successes represent a concrete shift towards fair economic policies under Moore’s guidance. The enactment of the Access to Banking Act and the strides made in supporting Black entrepreneurs exemplify how targeted policies can generate substantial economic advantages, benefiting not only minority business owners but also the broader state economy.

Perhaps most compelling was Governor Moore’s holistic view of economic opportunity. He understands that addressing the racial wealth gap requires more than just economic policy; it necessitates addressing foundational issues such as housing appraisals in historically redlined neighborhoods, transforming renters into homeowners, and ensuring that education systems teach young people to be employers, not just employees. His vision extends beyond economic metrics to encompass the wellbeing and potential of every Marylander, recognizing that the fate of the state is tied to the inclusion and empowerment of all its residents. 

Furthermore, Moore’s creation of Maryland’s inaugural MBE Ombudsman represents a significant stride in promoting fair involvement in the state’s economic activities. This position, specifically designed to assist minority enterprises in navigating governmental protocols and entering the market, symbolizes a pioneering initiative to promote equality in business opportunities.

Moore emphasized the need to tackle systemic issues such as child poverty and educational inequities. His introduction of the Enough Act, aimed at engaging various sectors of society to combat concentrated child poverty, showcased an innovative approach to fostering long-term economic resilience among marginalized communities. A bold declaration that Maryland will not accept poverty as an inevitable condition but will actively work to eradicate it.

If we have a society that looks at the heat map of child poverty within the state of Maryland, and if we look at the heat map of what exists right now about where we have not just child poverty but concentrated child poverty and concentrated generational child poverty, if we look at that and you cannot tell the difference between a map of those in 2024 or 2014 or 2004, we’ve got a problem.” – Wes Moore

—Grounded in empathy, backed by data, and aimed at systemic change—Governor Moore’s outline a roadmap for overcoming historical limitations and working towards a future that is both inclusive and prosperous. His push for a fairer economic landscape in Maryland is reinforced by deliberate policy adjustments, accountability mechanisms, and community engagement, aiming for a state where economic opportunities are equally accessible to everyone, regardless of race. This dedication to economic fairness, backed by concrete plans and a clear vision, resonates with Black entrepreneurs and advocates for a more equitable Maryland. It is crucial to address the systemic injustices hindering economic progress for Black entrepreneurs in Maryland as the state moves towards economic equity. While the path ahead may be challenging, the potential rewards for individuals and the state as a whole are significant. With continued focus, cooperation, and commitment, Governor Moore’s and indeed Maryland’s journey towards economic equity may well inspire other states to follow suit.

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