Recently, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Dr. Dana Hauanio-Lore, Executive Director of the Maryland Business Opportunity Center (MBOC), announced that the MBOC has awarded a $25,000 grant to the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation (AAEDC) to support its Inclusive Ventures Program (IVP), a business education initiative that helps small and minority-owned, woman-owned, and Veteran-owned businesses in Anne Arundel County grow and create jobs.
“I am thrilled to welcome another partner to help us continue carrying out a program that is making such a positive impact in Anne Arundel County,” said Mr. Pittman. “The ongoing success of the IVP demonstrates that Anne Arundel County is the place to be for entrepreneurs who are seeking meaningful support to expand their businesses.”
“We see the continued need in our underserved communities to connect with resources for business creation and growth, and we look forward to collaborating with our partners to promote all phases of entrepreneurship and business opportunities in targeted markets across Maryland,” said Dr. Hauanio-Lore.
The announcement comes just days after AAEDC CEO Amy Gowan presented certificates of completion and $5,000 checks to the sixth cohort of business owners to graduate from the IVP. Reflecting the geographic and sector diversity of Anne Arundel County’s businesses, the most recent class of participants included:
- Monica Alvarado, Bread and Butter Kitchen, Annapolis
- Latasha Billups, Regulus Technical Services, Gambrills
- Danielle Brown, Little Love Notes, Crofton
- Donta Henson, Los Hermanos, Glen Burnie
- April Jackson, Commercial Business Services, Glen Burnie
- Valerie Jackson, 5th Avenue Breakfast and Lunch, Glen Burnie
- Monica James, Lilly’s Place, Glen Burnie
- Valentia McVey, FatCat Studios, Glen Burnie
- Kamike Myers Pinnock, Tropix Pots Cuisines, Severna Park
- Louben Repke Repke Fitness, Millersville
- Jocelyn Toney, JC Hair Studio, Crofton
“Congratulations to each member of the March 2023 IVP cohort,” Gowan said during a small ceremony on May 5, 2023. “Sixty-five business owners have now benefitted from the program since its inception, in January 2021, and I’m proud to share that over three-quarters of them are women and over two-thirds identify as minorities. These businesses produce additional economic impact for Anne Arundel County in terms of job creation and capital investment, and we’re grateful to have the MBOC support this grassroots economic development initiative.”
Specifically, the MBOC’s sponsorship will fund a summer IVP cohort that will run from June 21 to August 9, 2023.
Now in its third year of operation, the IVP seeks to increase the business acumen of its participants and prepare them for their next stage of growth by offering a robust menu of resources including business education and training, access to capital, and mentorship. The last session is a pitch day, when each entrepreneur presents his or her business growth plan to and responds to questions from a panel of judges. Upon graduation, each participant receives the first half of a $10,000 grant which serves as working capital for their business. Business owners will receive the second half of the grant after completing a survey 18 months after pitch day.
Due to the personalized atmosphere of the program, each IVP cohort is limited to 10-12 participants. Businesses must be located in Anne Arundel County and business owners must complete an application and interview to be considered for admission to the program. Preferred candidates are entrepreneurs whose businesses have been operating for at least two years with employees and revenue.