Isaac Myers, one of the proponents of the 14th and 15th Amendments, opened the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock in Baltimore in 1866.


Kennard’s Wharf at the end of Philpot Street, the very place where Frederick Douglass entered Baltimore as a slave in the 1820s, later became the site of one of the most successful black-owned businesses in Baltimore City, the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company. The company, founded in 1866, employed both black and white workers, serving as a center of the city’s shipbuilding industry. 

“For the purpose of carrying on in this state the business of Ship Building and Repairing & the other branches of business or manufacturing necessarily connected therewith”, the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company was formally chartered in 1868, by “highly respected leaders in the social, religious, and political affairs of the black community”, including John W. Locks and Isaac Myers. These men and others obtained a lease through an agent, William Applegarth. Applegarth negotiated terms of a lease with its owner and then assigned the lease to “the John Smith Company” in 1866. The John Smith Company was chartered two years later as the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Company. Although the charter included the provision that the company was to exist for forty years, due to a misunderstanding, the lease expired and was not renewed in 1884. The company ceased operations that year.

Maryland state archives

Maryland in Pandemic to Prosperity: State of Black Business, 18th edition

Maryland ranked third in the Black Business Affinity Index with a 72 ranking.

Federal contracts

1,284 federal contracts in FY20

Bowie Mayor and SA-Tech Founder Tim Adams is seeking to be the first independently elected Black statewide official in Maryland

In November 2019, Adams took office as Bowie, Maryland’s first black mayor. He is president and CEO of Systems Application & Technologies, Inc. (SA-TECH), a company he founded in 1989. SA-TECH is a professional services firm with origins in the high technology and technical support areas of the defense industry. The Maryland-based firm employs more than 500 people in 20 locations. 

Pledging to serve taxpayers and small businesses across the state as an agent of fiscal responsibility, economic justice and social change, Bowie Mayor and acclaimed technology entrepreneur Tim Adams declared his candidacy to become the 34th Comptroller of Maryland.

Adams, 62, would be the first Black Comptroller in state history.  He would also become the first paraplegic to ever hold statewide office in Maryland.

“My life has been the embodiment of the very best possibilities of our country and state, and I am running to help provide every child in Maryland with the same opportunities for success and security that I’ve enjoyed,” said Adams.  “To do so, we must ensure that our tax dollars are invested wisely, everyone pays their fair share, and our business climate allows our small businesses and entrepreneurs to compete on a level playing field.”

Adams announced his campaign today with a video that was produced and directed by Devine Mulvey Longabaugh, a prominent Democratic media consulting firm based in Washington, DC.  The 2:35 piece, titled “Let’s Roll,” recaptures landmark moments in Adams’ personal and professional journey.  It features Timothy Adams, Jr., a drama major at New York University, in scenes depicting his father’s earlier years.

In declaring his candidacy, Adams promised to use the power of his office to help change a business and economic climate he has frequently characterized as “adrift.”   As one of three votes on Maryland’s Board of Public Works, which approves most state contracts greater than $200,000, he promised to hold agencies accountable for procurement transparency, commitment to open bid competition, and compliance with Maryland’s Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) laws.

“For all of our talk about so-called ‘government transparency,’ Maryland’s procurement system is still weighted in favor of incumbent vendors and those with the best political connections,” Adams said.  “This works out perfectly well for a handful of Annapolis insiders, but not for the taxpayers or for those emerging entrepreneurs who can offer better services at lower costs.”

Fast Facts

Black labor market

1,502,000 with 67% participation and 6.7% unemployment

State Small Business Credit Initiative

Maryland Dept. of Housing and Community Development  

Manufacturing Extension

Mike Kelleher

[email protected]

USDA Rural Development

Delaware | Maryland

David Baker, State Director
1221 College Park Drive, Suite 200 Dover, DE 19904
Voice: (302) 857-3580

Key races



Business history