Maryland’s Small Business Awards honor 2022 winners

07/20/2022 | Samantha Foley

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After a two year hiatus, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) revived the annual Maryland Small Business Awards. The awards are presented by the SBA’s Baltimore District Office and honors local winners of the National Small Business Week Awards competition, recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of small business owners and placing a special spotlight on the importance of small business to the local, state, and national economies.

This year marks the 36th year of the program, with an awards luncheon held last month at Martin’s West. Fourteen award winners were announced during this year’s program, covering everything from Small Business Person of the Year, Minority Owned Small Business, Women Owned Small Business, Veteran Owned Small Business, and more. Award nominations are accepted each year from October through January; with winner announcements in late April and a recognition ceremony held in June.

During this year’s ceremony, Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill lended congratulatory remarks to the winners while highlighting Maryland’s commitment to small business, and introduced a special video message from Governor Larry Hogan.

Dr. Rajan Natarajan of Global Alliant, Inc. was named the Small Business Person of the Year. Dr. Natarajan’s career started with bioscience research, followed by serving as Maryland Deputy Secretary of State and Maryland Commissioner of Transportation. Inspired by the creativity, ingenuity and charitable work of other entrepreneurs, Dr. Natarajan took the leap to start his own company, which led to founding Global Alliant, an information technology consulting and software development company located in Howard County. As an entrepreneur he has focused on the goal of helping others, creating scholarships for underprivileged high school students and serving on the board of the Asian-American Youth Leadership Empowerment and Development.

Kelsey Parker of ThinkBlack! was honored as the Rising Star Student Entrepreneur of the Year. This recognition is given to a student in grades 6-12 that is enrolled in a Maryland-based education institution and is currently operating their own business. Kelsey attends and was nominated by Pikesville High School. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelsey set a course to change the world by launching ThinkBlack!, a mobile app and website offering a nationwide free directory of black-owned businesses. At age 15, Kelsey built the platform to include reviews, contact information, and even driving directions for the businesses. The platform currently has more than 3,000 businesses listed, with a goal to list 20,000 businesses by next summer.

The full list of winners includes:

Small Business Person of the Year:
Dr. Rajan Natarajan, Global Alliant, Inc., Columbia

Minority Owned Small Business of the Year:
Elizabeth Kemp Caulder, THE PHOENIX Lifestyle Marketing Group, Owings Mills

Home Based Small Business of the Year:
Terry C. Woodfolk, Terry’s Tiny Tots Childcare, LLC, Baltimore

Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year:
Betsy Cerulo, AdNet/AccountNet, Inc., Baltimore

Young Entrepreneur of the Year:
Vinessa Williams, Scott Learning Center (formerly Little Leaders Learning Center), Salisbury

Financial Services Champion of the Year:
Lyndsae’ Peele, MBA, Kingdom Vision Enterprises, LLC, Baltimore

Insurance Advocate of the Year:
Joseph K. Morgan, Blue Harbor Benefits, Towson

Entrepreneurial Success of the Year:
John S. Graham, III, Sullivan Cove Consultants, LLC, Severna Park

Family-Owned Small Business of the Year:
Anna & Charles Radle, Fieldstone Animal Inn, Millersville

Rising Star Student Entrepreneur of the Year:
Kelsey Parker, ThinkBlack, LLC, Pikesville

Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year:
Carl Neimeyer, PE, Bernward Mechanical & Construction Solutions, Severna Park

Attorney Advocate of the Year:
Geoffrey Washington, Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC, Baltimore

Accountant Advocate of the Year:
Richard J. Thomas, The Thomas Firm, Inc., Upper Marlboro

Small Business Exporter of the Year:
Kenneth Sanchez, Chesapeake Specialty Products Inc., Baltimore

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