BALTIMORE - Tradepoint Atlantic is a 3,300-acre global logistics center - a place where industry is set in motion.
Their new initiative took that a step further, launching small businesses into a world of opportunity.
It was a day of shaking hands and making connections – in a room full of new opportunities.
"Not just small opportunities but larger opportunities that we wouldn't otherwise have the chance to pursue," Keith Brown, senior VP of Kim Engineering, said.
They were opportunities that this group of entrepreneurs earned through hard work.
"You're here because you put in the work," Gov. Wes Moore told the entrepreneurs. "You're here because you chose difficult. You didn't choose simple. You chose to wake up earlier. You chose to stay up later."
Moore gave remarks in Sparrows Point Thursday as 12 small businesses graduated from Tradepoint Atlantic's inaugural Empowerment Academy – a training program for minority, veteran, and women-owned small businesses.
Leslie Rashid, a graduate, co-owns D&L Cleanup with her mother.
"Oftentimes as a small business, it is a challenge for us to compete against larger corporations," said Rashid.
For two months, entrepreneurs, including Rashid, learned from experts about human resources management, accounting, marketing and business financing.
"Through the presenters and resources at Empowerment Academy, it allows our companies to sit at the tables with an even playing field," Rashid said.
Tradepoint Atlantic partnered with community development firm Mayson-Dixon to create the academy.
Tradepoint's managing director Kerry Doyle said the academy was a way for the global logistics company to pour back into the local economy.
"To have vested interest in the long-term viability and sustained success of the companies we partner with," said Doyle.
"It's actually opened doors for us to actually work here at Tradepoint at the site," said Brown.
For the 12 small businesses now empowered with knowledge and connections — the opportunities are endless.
"I'm the proud co-owner of D&L Cleanup. A minority-owned, women owned commercial cleaning company," said Rashid. "And remember your project is not complete until it's clean!"
Tradepoint's Empowerment Academy will continue next year. Businesses can begin submitting applications this spring.