Growing up Black in the D.C. area, Bill Tompkins learned early to appreciate diversity. In Maryland, as president and CEO of the Montgomery County Economic Development Commission, this understanding drives his support for LGBTQ-owned businesses. “With the headwinds that the LGBTQ community runs into, we want to make sure we’re giving everyone the right opportunity to do well here,” Tompkins said.
The commission, created in 2016 as a public-private economic development organization, helps businesses start, grow and relocate in Montgomery County.
They are also tasked with supporting underserved communities. “MCEDC staff know our capabilities very well and that we’re experts in what we do,” said Pat Larrabee, founder and president of Facility Logix, a firm assisting biotech companies with relocating to specialized facilities. “They’ve been very helpful to us and our clients, and on projects.” Larrabee, a Vermont native, met her partner during a softball game in Montgomery County.
They married and raised three daughters in the county in part because of the “favorable environment.” In 2020, Montgomery County unanimously passed Maryland’s first LGBTQ Bill of Rights, which included adding gender expression and HIV status to existing anti-discrimination protections. “We’re always doing these things because it’s the right thing to do,” Tompkins explained.