This year’s Minority Small Business Champion is Celester “Les” Hall, Program Manager with the Maryland Department of Commerce, nominated by the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Office of Business Development.
It’s his job to facilitate access to the state’s financing resources, but it’s his desire to help others that sets him apart. Les really goes above and beyond for his clients, most of whom are minority, woman or veteran owned small businesses. As Program Director, he handles operations and policy formation and works directly with prospective borrowers to identify the loan program that best suits their needs. With so many financing options, it can be overwhelming to a new business owner who isn’t familiar with the acronyms or the numerous agencies offering assistance.
He is happy to explain the special features of the state’s many funding programs making sure they understand that they have choices and that help is available. He’s also not shy about handing out a to-do list. Sometimes, his clients need a nudge, maybe needing to do a little more research or to beef up their business plan. He offers action steps to get them on the right track.
Les is a 20-year volunteer with Tuttie’s Place, a non-profit operating a Community Wellness Center in West Baltimore and a residential group home for adolescent males. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Maryland Small Business Development Finance Authority, the State’s Early Childhood Advisory Council and the Neighborhood Business Works Loan Committee.