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COLLEGE PARK — FSC First celebrated four decades of service helping to grow local businesses with their 40th-anniversary brunch where they awarded company members and local business owners while former County Executive Rushern Baker III was given the first even Legacy Leadership Award on Friday, Dec. 7.
The event, which took place at The Hotel at The University of Maryland, opened with remarks by President and CEO Shelley Gross-Wade followed by a buffet meal, invocation of awards and comments by Baker and FSC Board of Directors Chair Kathryn Clay.
“Today’s event is truly a culmination of many months of planning and preparation, but more importantly we’ve come to celebrate the fact that we have been a consistent resource to the businesses in Prince George’s County generating an economic impact one of them at a time while focusing on our mission for the last 20 years,” said Gross-Wade who has been president of FSC First for the last 20 years.
Founded in 1978, FSC First supports businesses with the goal of creating a community where small business have the financial tools they need to thrive. They provide innovative and creative financing solutions and loan administration services to benefit small and emerging businesses.
Since its inception, the nonprofit has developed local and regional strategic alliances with key economic development agencies and business resource providers.
These businesses assist with bringing financial solutions to FSC clients like business evaluation plans, management and technical assistance, bonding and procurement assistance. Additionally, the group partners with the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and county administration to meet their goals.
The organization has made many accomplishments in business development and investment, especially in the last 20 years. They have assisted a total of 1,826 businesses with financial counseling services, an average of 91 businesses every year. They have approved $131 million in loans, have attracted $1.3 billion in public and private funds and have had a 20 percent return on investment.
They have created or supported 11,089 jobs for county residents over the last 20 years, 80 percent of those have been over the previous 10 years, and overall they have accumulated a $1.6 million budget increase over the $130,000 budget they had 20 years ago.
“What I’ve learned is that it (FSC First) is best-kept secret, and we don’t really want to be the best-kept secret, but when you think of what we’ve done as the best-kept secret, $1.3 billion, can you imagine what we can do for FSC and the county and communities that we serve if we were more widely known,” Clay said.
Some awards were given during the ceremony to FSC First’s partners and local business owners.
As partners of the organizations, Certificates of Appreciation were given to Firstrust Bank Vice President Maria Randall, Executive Director of Bowie Business Innovation Center (BIC) Lisa Smith and Public Affairs Manager of Pepco Exelon Tami Watkins.
Meanwhile, EDC Member Davis Lewis received the Referral Partner Award and Revere Bank Vice President was given the Lending Partner of the Year award.
Ron Burke, director of marketing and advertising at the Washington Informer, received the Media Partner Award. The FSC First Employee of the year award was given to Dawn Medley and Clay won the Chairman’s Award.
As for local entrepreneurs, Sandy Mazza took home the Entrepreneur of the Year award for her Sandy Bottom Sparkling Rum Cocktails business.
MSADDEE, Inc. Owner Angela Dunn was given Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year, and Bizybee Professional Staffing Biz’Ness Solutions LLC owner Danae Hubbard was honored to receive the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year for her New Carrollton-based staffing business.
Finally, Baker received the Legacy Leadership Award, the first ever awarded by the organization.
“I am deeply honored,” Baker said. “It’s an honor because having worked closely with FSC First over these last eight years it’s truly an honor to be recognized by them for the small part I played.”
Prince George’s County’s seventh county executive, who ended his eight-year term last month, received the award for working closely with FSC First and other state and regional leaders to create jobs and grow the economy.
FSC First’s accomplishments and honors don’t stop here as the organization has a list of goals for the new year.
“In the future, we want to ensure that we continue to support the commercial tax base by encouraging those businesses that had been leasing property to purchase their commercial real estate facility,” Gross-Wade said. “We also had to the opportunity to support the local contractors in Prince George’s County, so they have access to capital to support the more than $6 billion worth of new development that is under construction in Prince George’s County.”
By June, they hope to have closed $8.4 million in direct loans, sourced additional funding to attain financial viability, fully implement a multi-year technology upgrade plan to enhance operational efficiency, develop a three-year strategic plan to reduce reliance on county grant funding and maintain an effective board management strategy in order to ensure accountability, governance and policy oversight.
“Like the outgoing board chair said, this is the best-kept secret in the Washington region, not just Prince George’s County,” Baker said. “We want to make sure they are not a secret anymore. That will raise the profile for FSC First but more importantly will raise the profile of Prince George’s County and what we can do to attract commercial business out here.”