ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Howard County’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) have opened applications for a third cohort of “HoCo Higher,” a transformative entrepreneur accelerator program launched in 2021, in partnership with M&T Bank. The empowering program teaches early-stage and historically under-served entrepreneurs the essentials of business planning, operations, credit building, digital communication, and financial management. Top business mentors, coaches and subject matter experts will lead the intensive eight-week bootcamp at no cost to participants.
“Small businesses are the economic engine that push Howard County forward and help our community thrive,” said Ball. “This new class of entrepreneurs will be able to reach new heights, access important resources, and build connections with the help of HoCo Higher. I encourage small business owners to apply for this unique and exciting opportunity to learn best practices and set their business up for success.”
Emerging and existing small business owners are invited to apply for this unique opportunity to get in financial shape and learn best practices from trusted financial insiders. Enrollment is based on a competitive application process. The eight-week program begins on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 and will meet weekly on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Maryland Innovation Center in Columbia.
Applications can be found online at: https://mtbank.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_7QVDTh6PnkQleM6 and to be eligible to apply, applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:
At least two years in business operations, and
Be a Howard County based business and in good standing.
“This public/private partnership is another great way to support our early-stage entrepreneurs,” said EDA President Larry Twele. “We appreciate the County Executive’s leadership and the participation of M&T Bank to support our local small business owners.”
Entrepreneurs selected for the program will follow a curriculum curated by M&T Bank, the region’s top small-business lender. The curriculum will include lessons on legal business formation, obtaining certifications, developing business plans, managing business and personal finances, sourcing capital, pricing strategies, risk management and business insurance, marketing strategies and more.
“We learned so much from the first cohort of HoCo Higher entrepreneurs and look forward to using that knowledge to make the program even better for the next group of business owners,” said Jim Peterson, a vice president and relationship manager for M&T Bank’s Minority and Women Owned Business Banking team in Greater Baltimore. “We know the insights they will gain from the accelerator program will help fuel the growth of businesses owned by minorities, women and people of color, contribute to the generational wealth of those entrepreneurs and their families, and spur economic activity throughout Howard County.”
Since the program’s launch, 48 businesses have graduated from the first two cohorts. The County and M&T Bank have provided nearly $300,000 in grant funding for HoCo Higher. Each participant receives $5,000, and one business in each cohort wins a $25,000 prize.