September 2020 Newsletter

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo- far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first glance.”
― Jodi Picoult

BOWIE, MD – The Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announced Terry Rogers as the organization’s 36th President. During his installation speech, Rogers stated that “Bowie is a great city with the distinction of being the fifth largest municipality in the state of Maryland and yet it is small enough to become familiar with virtually every business located in the Greater Bowie area”. One of his primary goals, in light of the pandemic, is to work closely with local business owners to provide them the support they may need by Communicating, Advocating and Connecting them to all available resources and networking opportunities necessary to help survive COVID-10 related business interruptions.  He added, “what matters most is that the Chamber has a shared vision with the Greater Bowie business community, and he looks forward to listening and learning from local business leaders”.
Rogers has over 30 years of experience in US Department of Defense, private industry and entrepreneurial leadership positions for both profit and non-profit companies and organizations. As a board member of the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce, he is an Associate Broker at NAI Michael Commercial Real Estate Company, based on Lanham, MD. He is a graduate of Rider University, Lawrenceville, NJ, and a U.S. Army Commissioned Officer Veteran. 
The Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce is comprised of more than 250 members with common interests and concerns. It is the primary professional trade organization in the Greater Bowie area, dedicated to the protection, enhancement, and success of good business in the community.
Available Paycheck Protection Program data breaks down gender, race among Prince George’s County businesses receiving coronavirus relief

Of the limited number of Prince George’s County businesses that provided demographic data when receiving a Payroll Protection Program loan, more white- and men-owned businesses received high value loans and had higher loan averages, according to available data from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Of the 11,000 county businesses that received PPP funding, 15% indicated the gender of ownership and only 4% listed the owner’s race. Applicants voluntarily submitted demographic information, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Businesses can apply to have their loans forgiven if using funds for specific reasons such as payroll, mortgage interest, rent or utilities, per the SBA’s website.

Thirty percent of the 1,250 businesses that provided gender information were listed as women-owned. Women make up about 50% of Prince George’s County’s population.

Data from the 457 businesses that gave race information showed white-owned businesses receiving a higher average total of loans than Black-owned businesses. In 2018, about 61% of the county’s residents were Black and about 12% were white, according to Census data.

Incomplete data from the SBA’s program made it difficult for The Capital to calculate if there was a disparity in the demographics of all business owners who accepted a loan. Almost 85% of county businesses listed neither race nor gender of ownership. The data also was split into businesses that received loans for less than $150,000 and businesses that received $150,000 and over. Business names were only listed for those that received more than $150,000, which accounted for just 15% of loans in the county.

Terry Rogers, president of the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce, said the county is home to 23,530 small, single-location businesses. Small businesses often lack access to resources useful for navigating loan applications such as long-term banking relationships, which may have contributed to disparities.

“The resources that are required to back a loan to show credibility aren’t the same in the minority community as they are in the majority,” Rogers said.

According to data from the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce, over 75% of the county’s businesses are small businesses, the vast majority of which have fewer than 20 employees. Rogers said that banks often view small businesses as riskier investments because they are at an increased risk of not paying back loans on time.

Black business owners

Of the 124 businesses that received loans over $150,000 and indicated the race of the owner, white-owned businesses made up a greater proportion than all businesses owned by other races combined. Loans over $150,000 were listed as ranges, rather than exact amounts.
For loans under $150,000, white-owned businesses received $14,000 more on average than Black-owned businesses.

Rogers said that racial and socioeconomic inequities that span generations have contributed to challenges faced by start-up, or “mom and pop,” minority-owned businesses when applying for loans.
These inequities can have a snowball effect.

He used the example of a minority-owned business headed by a first-time homeowner. That individual may lack the necessary equity to use as collateral when applying for a loan, and may not have wealthy family members who can cosign. This inability to be approved for a loan can stagnate a business’s growth and prevent it from investing in resources like payroll departments, long-term banking relationships or staff attorneys.

Donna Wright, founder of Bowie-based federal contracting company Aurora Technical Systems LLC, which was classified by the SBA as a small disadvantaged business, said she was not at all surprised by the disparity seen in available data. She attributed them to systemic bias and racism within the lending community. Her $12,000 loan only covered payroll for about two weeks.

Wright said her troubles with the program began when she first applied through Capital One, a lender she’s worked with for a decade. She said she wasn’t able to apply for at least three weeks, meaning her application landed after the government had burned through its first lump sum of funding. The bank told her they were only lending to a select group of customers at that point in the process, she said.

A spokesperson from Capital One said the bank has provided more than $1.2 billion in PPP funding to more than 15,000 businesses.

“Capital One is committed to supporting small businesses through this extraordinarily difficult time and we are always sorry to hear about any experience that does not meet our rigorous standards and commitment to customer service,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Capital.

Not having access to lending professionals can make it difficult for small businesses to gather quickly the necessary paperwork for an application. The PPP’s initial round of first-come-first-serve funding ran out just 13 days after opening April 3, leaving small businesses lacking application support without a chance when they desperately needed funding.

Wright, who described the application process as “terrible,” didn’t have a banker to rely on.

Ames Perry, a white woman who owns Food Resource LLC, a regulatory consulting company in Bowie, did.

Perry said she would not have applied for a loan had she not been helped by a banker referred to her by the Bowie Business Innovation Center. The banker’s experience expedited the application process for Perry, allowing her to focus on other aspects of running her business during the pandemic.

“I couldn’t care less about the nuts and bolts of the finances,” Perry said. “If I had to do that, I wouldn’t be in business.”

Women business owners

Of the 367 businesses that listed gender and received a loan of $150,000 or more, 19% were women-owned.

On average, men received $7,000 more than women for loans under $150,000. Again, exact loan values were only revealed when under $150,000.

According to available data, Asian, Hispanic and white men all received more funding, on average, than women of the same race. Black women received more average funding than men of the same race.

White-owned businesses had the largest average loan disparity –– nearly $20,000 –– between men and women owners.

White, male business owners had the highest average loan amount under $150,000 at more than $60,000. Black men averaged 55% less.
White men also had the highest number of loans over $150,000, more than doubling the number of the next highest, Black-male-owned businesses.

The Treasury Department’s data did not list business types for those that received below $150,000 beyond classifying each as a corporation, limited liability company, nonprofit, or other type of business. There was not enough race and gender data to determine disparities among businesses under the same category.

Nationwide, far more Black owners than white owners have been forced to close their businesses, at least temporarily, as a result of the pandemic, according to reporting from The New York Times.

Part of the Trump administration’s CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program was designed to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the SBA’s website.

The loans saved over 120,000 jobs in the county, according to the data. It’s a boost amid a pandemic that has infected nearly 25,000 and killed at least 746 in Prince George’s County, according to data from the Maryland Department of Health.

Find full article here.

Bowie resident, other Maryland grads launch Tetragram app to journal the chemical composition of medical cannabis

Otha Smith III has so much energy he would bottle and sell it if he could, so when he uses cannabis he knows to avoid plants which have been bred to contain a lot of alpha-pinene, the energy-promoting compound that is also found in pine trees and rosemary.

He looks instead for plants heavy in myrcene, a supposedly sedating compound also found in hops, which are used to flavor beer.

To help others keep track of what products they have used, how they felt and what the chemical composition was, Smith developed the idea for a phone app called Tetragram, which allows users to log 22 compounds listed in percentage on the side of medical cannabis products in Maryland.

The mission of Tetragram is to use that aggregate data to help patients and medical professionals better understand the positives and negatives of cannabis use, he said. Giving patients more information also reduces their need to rely on recommendations from budtenders in stores, Smith said, and reduces the risk of trying a strain that causes a negative reaction and makes that person think they hate all cannabis.

Smith, a Bowie resident, entrepreneur and graduate of Bowie State University, teamed up with Towson University graduate and visual designer Lucas Roe and University of Maryland, Baltimore County graduate and computer programmer Julius Moore to officially launch Tetragram on July 10.

Smith said in the month since they have accumulated more than 400 app users. The biggest challenge caused by COVID-19 to the launch of the app has been the way it has affected Smith’s ability to “pop up” at various dispensaries to talk directly with consumers about the app, he said, similar to how some cannabis brands “pop up” to encourage sale of their products.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the compound that gives patients the cerebral “high” feeling, Smith said, but the way a strain affects an individual is also determined by compounds called terpenes, which can promote attention or relaxation, stunt hunger, sedate and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Smith says it is very important for patients to understand the effects of different terpenes, but the list on the side of the bottle can be dauntingly long.

Terpenes are present in cannabidiol or CBD products as well, Smith said.

While a strain name is passed from plant generation to plant generation, the chemical composition of the new plant can differ from its parent. And the market is also constantly changing –– a patient could find a strain they like, but once it sells out it could be weeks before it returns to the store again, as a new batch must be grown and harvested, Smith said.

Smith said he was overwhelmed by variety of cannabis products when he first became a patient registered with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission as an alternative to using opioids to manage pain that stems from a car crash in 2003 in which he was ejected from the vehicle.

Cannabis business advocate and Anne Arundel Community College professor Shad Ewart said the app could serve as an alternative to a focus group to collect consumer data.

“One of the things we lack in the cannabis industry is reliable and valid consumer data on usage and effects,” he said in an email. “Many who consume cannabis are unwilling to speak about it and when they do, they tend to exaggerate or minimize their usage.”

Ewart had two caveats –– the need for accurate data and many, many app users. If a person is putting information into Tetragram based on a medical product with the composition on the side that’s good, he said, but if a person is guessing what the make up of a product is without knowing that could be an issue.

“The impacts of each strain is highly dependent on the user, so you need a significant number of comments to weed out the outliers,” Ewart wrote.

Smith said they hope to provide dispensaries and cultivators with consumer information to help them figure what products people prefer and why. Tetragram also allows the user to say what they are treating, which could provide insight into what strains are the best for what conditions.

There are other cannabis-focused apps on the market such as Leafly and WeedMaps, through which users can see a dispensary’s menu and place an order, and also research different strains and their reported effects based on reviews. Smith said his app takes a deeper dive into the data.

They will be rolling out new features soon, he said, such as the ability to share a review with a friend or doctor. They would like to create a way for users, who don’t put a name down, to interact, and are also working on advertisements for the site.

Find full article here.

Administrative Non-profit Internship
Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce (GBCC)
Bowie, MD 20715
Temporarily/Part Time

Apply Now
Interested applicants please send resume/cover letter to

Internships at Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce
GBCC is a non-profit membership based business in Bowie, MD. Our organization focuses on educating, advocating and connecting local businesses. We are currently seeking two (2) part time interns for the 2020/2021 year. Our internships provide a great experience for students with opportunity for pay and school credit. All internships vary in time frame, depending upon experience and availability, and last between 3-9 months. All of our interns will work one-on-one with board members, directors, volunteers and other interns during the internship.

All college interns are trained as senior level interns and have the chance to work in administrative positions that include planning and coordinating programs, workshops, events, and fundraisers.

All high school interns are trained as junior level interns and are provided with more training on management areas. A Midterm and Final review will be provided by Board of Directors for all internships.

Internship Responsibilities:
  • Commit to personalized timeline/schedule
  • Commit to follow through on projects
  • Commit to GBCC trainings
  • Follow the Daily Schedule
  • Educate the public on memberships/opportunities
  • Assist Board Members/Volunteers/Directors/Interns
  • Submit a Weekly Review 

The Prince George’s County Council continues to operate under the emergency procedures stated in the Governor’s “Proclamation and Declaration of State of Emergency and Existence of Catastrophic Health Emergency – COVID-19”, effective March 5, 2020, and amended May 13, 2020, and the Prince George’s County State of Emergency Declaration, effective March 16, 2020, and extended by the Governing Body of Prince George’s County with the adoption of CR-31-2020 on May 11, 2020 and by CR-51-2020 on June 9, 2020. These procedures became effective pursuant to CR-10-2020, adopted by the Council on March 17, 2020, and amended pursuant to CR-35-2020, adopted May 18, 2020.

County Council sessions will reconvene on September 9, 2020. The District Council is scheduled to reconvene following the August recess, on September 14, 2020. COUNCIL CONNECTION will resume regular publication when Council meetings reconvene. Be safe and well. 

Webinar | Reducing bias in the workplace through hiring, retention, development, and promotion

On September 2, at 11 a.m., the Maryland Chamber Foundation in partnership with BGE will host the second installment of the series promoting equity and inclusion in the workplace.

In our second webinar, “Reducing bias in the workplace through hiring, retention, development, and promotion,” we will be joined by a panel of Comcast representatives including Mary McLaughlin, regional senior vice president, Comcast Beltway Region; Kelli Hill, regional president customer care, Comcast; and Loren Hudson, regional vice president human resources, Comcast. This 60-minute webinar will consist of a 45-minute panel discussion and a 15-minute Q&A session moderated by Christine Ross, President & CEO, Maryland Chamber of Commerce.
Attendees will learn how companies focus on reducing bias in the workplace and create inclusive cultures that support retention and employee engagement. Resource materials will be provided to participants after the program.

Register here!

2020 Congressional Roundup – Virtual
On September 9th, starting at 10:00 am, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual Congressional Roundup. Do not miss the opportunity to hear directly from policy experts and Maryland’s congressional delegation regarding the current legislative and electoral landscape and how it intersects with the challenges presently being faced by the business community. Through this virtual event, attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions and to convey their concerns directly to lawmakers.

Click here to register!

Update: July 29, 2020

A recent increase in hospitalizations has triggered a ‘stop sign’ in the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,’ calling for a pause in further reopening plans.
EXPANDED MASKING ORDER. With the unanimous support of the Maryland Coronavirus Recovery Team, Governor Hogan is expanding the statewide masking order that has been in effect since April 18.

Under this order, which takes effect Friday, July 31 at 5:00 p.m., all Marylanders over the age of five are required to wear face coverings in the public spaces of all businesses across the state.

Face coverings will also be required in outdoor public areas, whenever it is not possible to maintain physical distancing. The expanded order continues to provide certain exceptions, including for medical conditions. Read the governor’s order.

OUT-OF-STATE TRAVEL ADVISORY. Governor Hogan has directed the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to issue a public health advisory for out-of-state travel.

Under this advisory, Marylanders are strongly advised against traveling to states with positivity rates of 10% or higher. Anyone traveling from these states should get tested and self-quarantine while awaiting results.

This public health advisory—which takes effect immediately—applies to personal, family, or business travel of any kind. Marylanders are advised to postpone or cancel travel to these areas until their positivity rates decline.

As of today, this advisory applies to Florida, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, Nebraska, and Idaho. Read the travel advisory.

COVID-19 Statistics in Maryland
Number of confirmed cases : 102,899
Number of persons tested negative : 1,101,368
Total testing volume : 1,722,957
Number of confirmed deaths : 3,536
Number of probable deaths : 138
Currently hospitalized : 455
Acute care : 353
Intensive care : 102
Ever hospitalized : 13,823
Released from isolation : 6,047


1. USDOL announces guidance for the Lost Wages Assistance program

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the release of guidance to help states implement the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program on August 12. LWA was authorized by Presidential Memorandum and provides claimants in most Unemployment Insurance (UI) programs up to $400 per week additional benefits, starting with weeks of unemployment ending on or after Aug. 1, 2020, and ending Dec. 27, 2020 at the latest. LWA will be administered by states through a grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and with support from the Labor Department.

To qualify for LWA benefits, individuals must provide self-certification they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19), and the state must confirm that the individual is receiving at least $100 of underlying unemployment benefits.

LWA is funded by FEMA through a joint federal-state agreement and provides the states with two benefit options. For the $400 per week benefit, states must contribute 25 percent ($100) and the federal government will cover 75 percent of the cost ($300). States are encouraged to satisfy the 25 percent state match requirement and provide the additional $100 in benefits either through allocations of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), provided under the CARES Act, or other state funding. For the $300 per week benefit, FEMA will fund the entire amount and states may choose to simply satisfy the 25 percent state match, without allocating additional state funds, with the state funding used to pay regular state UI unemployment benefits.

Visit the FEMA website for more information.

2. FEMA Approves Maryland’s LWA application

On Wednesday, Governor Hogan announced Maryland submitted an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) grant which would provide an additional $300 of federal unemployment insurance on top of current state benefits (discussed above). If the request is approved, the Maryland Department of Labor’s Division Unemployment Insurance will work in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor to manage and distribute the funds-which should be available starting in late-September and will cover filing periods dating back to the week that ended on August 1. Later in the day Wednesday, FEMA announced that it had approved Maryland’s application to participate in the program and money could begin to be disbursed starting in late September.

Maryland will have to match 25% of the federal funds, or $100, but it is unclear if the state will count current payments as their matching portion, which according to federal guidance would qualify, or if they will add an additional $100. With the state’s current maximum benefit of $430, the additional federal benefit will bring the weekly maximum to $730. The federal LWA program is the result of an executive order signed by President Trump considering Congress was unable to reach a deal on an additional relief package before their August recess. Congress will remain in recess until after Labor Day.

3. U.S. Chamber urges tax relief certainty

Earlier this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with more than 30 trade associations, sent a letter to Congress and the U.S. Department of Treasury urging them to work together on a path forward that provides much-needed tax relief to American families without imposing a large tax bill in the future, which the recent Executive Order (EO) providing a payroll tax deferral would do.

To demonstrate the magnitude of the potential tax bill compared to the immediate benefit of the deferral, the U.S. Chamber created an income impact analysis chart, showing that while employees who make under $104,000 a year will get a relatively small benefit in each paycheck, they will owe a lot in 2021.

The letter states, “Many of our members consider it unfair to employees to make a decision that would force a big tax bill on them next year. It would also be unworkable to implement a system where employees make this decision. Therefore, many of our members will likely decline to implement deferral, choosing instead to continue to withhold and remit to the government the payroll taxes required by law. We hope Congress and the Administration come together on a path that supports workers instead of burdening hardworking Americans with a large tax bill next year.”
The letter can be read in full here.

4. Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland: Champions of Maryland Manufacturing

The Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland has launched their Champions of Maryland Manufacturing program and is asking for your help in telling the story of all the great things happening in manufacturing. There are so many valuable, exciting, heart-warming and innovative manufacturing-related efforts taking place statewide they are asking you to submit your story or the story of an individual, company, organization, academic institution or agency who deserves recognition for their exemplary manufacturing-related efforts in any one of these seven key areas:

  • Fight Against COVID-19
  • Innovation
  • Workforce
  • Resiliency
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Community Engagement
  • Energy Efficiency & Sustainability

You can share and read Champions stories at


If your business has reached a milestone or received an award, please email the Chamber at We look forward to giving kudos in Tradeline!
Chick-fil-A Marketplace Bowie presented 586 free sandwich offer cards to the Bowie Interfaith Food Pantry Emergency Fund! CFA donated one offer card for every mobile delivery they made in a two week period!
Save the Date!
Your health matters to the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce. Over the next few weeks we will be practicing social distancing by limiting or reducing unessential meetings.

Sponsorship Opportunities Available

Contact the Chamber office at to secure your sponsorship today!
Unless otherwise noted above, register online

For additional information call 
301-262-0920 or email
72-Hour notice is required on cancellations

Business & Economic Development 
Promotes business development for chamber members through seminars and best practices. Works on attracting businesses to Greater Bowie.

Membership Development
Works on expanding the Chamber membership base as well as retaining existing members.

Corporate & Community Relations 
Provides opportunities to give back to the community, both in volunteer time and financial and in-kind contributions.

Advocates on behalf of the Chamber before the City Council, County Council and General Assembly. Informs the Board and membership of pending issues before those bodies of interest to Greater Bowie businesses.

Women In Business 
To offer useful information and networking opportunities focused on helping women to successfully meet the challenges they face in today's business world and learn how to find and maintain balance within. Sponsor events to raise funds for the Women in Business scholarship fund.

Healthcare Committee
Promotes Chamber Healthcare related businesses to the community, healthcare related networking events, bringing healthcare providers together and holds community Health Fair.
Social Action

Peanut Butter Shelf

GBCC has adopted the Peanut Butter Shelf in the Bowie Interfaith Pantry. Each month the Bowie Food Pantry goes through approximately 350 jars of peanut butter. 

You can drop off your donation at the Chamber office or directly to the Bowie Food Pantry, located at 2614 Kenhill Drive, Suite 134. (GBCC Office is Suite 117.)

Bowie Business Journal
In conjunction with the GBCC, Bowie Business Journal (BBJ) is a cable television program designed to help Bowie business owners start and grow their business. The 30-minute show features GBCC members. If you would like to be a guest and showcase your business please email

New & Renewing Members

Titanium Restorations, LLC

Chic-fil-A Bowie Marketplace

Rip's Country Inn

Visiting Angels Homecare Agency

Ettienne's Premier Pediatric Care

Hospitality Development Co. II, LLC

Old Bowie Town Grille

Thank you!
Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce can't thank our members enough for all you do ... and of course, we would love to see even more NEW members, so everyone, please try to make it part of your mission to bring in at least one new member!

For more information, contact our Membership Committee leaders Ron Watson and Terry Rogers at