July 13, 2024
Annapolis, US 87 F

Inclusive Ventures Program launched for minority, women, and veteran owned businesses

Today Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman joined Ben Birge, Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC) CEO, to announce the launch of the Inclusive Ventures Program (IVP). The goal of the IVP is to help small, minority, women and veteran owned businesses in Anne Arundel County by offering a robust menu of resources including education, access to capital and mentorship.

“Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation has once again thought outside the box to create a program that goes directly to the needs of county businesses, this time specifically small minority and women-owned businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic economy,” said County Executive Pittman. “The mix of mentorship, grant funding, and access to credit for a carefully selected group of entrepreneurs is a winning formula.”

Business owners must apply to the IVP, which has a limit of ten participants.  Upon acceptance, entrepreneurs will take part in the program’s signature component, the Virtual Entrepreneurship Cohort and Seed Fund. This online experience is a three-hour class once a week for six weeks led by business consultant Will Holmes, a recruiter for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. During the seventh meeting, each participant will receive a certificate of completion and a $5,000 grant to be used for working capital. The applications are open now and must be submitted by February 19, 2021.

Applicants must be based in Anne Arundel County and have been in business and producing revenue for at least two years. According to the US Census, there are 9,994 minority owned businesses in the County and an additional 5,547 veteran owned ones.

Participating businesses also receive exclusive, complimentary consultations with legal, human resources and accounting experts such as:

  • Johnetta Thurston – Founder of JDA Management Consulting will serve as the IVP’s human resources consultant;
  • Carlos “CJ” Santos – An Associate with law firm NemphosBraue, LLC and a board member of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and
  • LaKia Bourne – Owner and CEO of Synergy Accounting Services.

Entrepreneurs also may apply for additional funds through AAEDC’s VOLT loan fund and Workforce Training Reimbursement program. AAEDC is a manager of the VOLT Fund, a State of Maryland program that provides low interest loans from $25,000 to $500,000 to qualified small, minority, women and veteran owned businesses.  The Workforce Training Grant is a reimbursement to cover 50% up to $1,000 of a business’ cost in training its employees.

“We know that even before the pandemic that these types of small businesses were already on tenuous footing, with many challenged with meeting operating expenses,” said Ben Birge. “We believe that the unique features of the IVP, particularly the virtual education component and the grant, will help participating businesses be in a better position to access capital and grow to the next level.”

The program is limited to ten participants to enable each business to get the hand-on mentorship and training needed to succeed.  After completion of this inaugural program, the AAEDC plans to offer it again in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2021.

Interested businesses should apply by visiting the Inclusive Ventures Program page on the AAEDC website. The application period runs from January 29 to 5:00 p.m. on February 19.

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