ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and Howard County’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) have opened applications for a fourth cohort of the highly successful “HoCo Higher” entrepreneur accelerator program. Conducted in partnership with M&T Bank, this 10-week bootcamp 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 program at no cost to participants.

This program is not only transformational for small businesses and entrepreneurs, but it provides critical support that is required in building more opportunities for underserved markets in Howard County. Since the first meeting of our inaugural cohort in September 2021, we’ve now enabled more than 60 graduates to reach new heights, access capital, and build connections. I encourage small business owners to apply for this unique and exciting opportunity to learn best practices and set their business up for success.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

Trusted financial advisors will guide emerging and existing small business owners with lessons on best practices for their business’ success. The County has awarded more than $300,000 to the three previous cohorts and provides participants the opportunity to enter a “shark-tank” style pitch competition.
Enrollment is based on a competitive application process. The 10-week program begins on Wednesday, April 19, and will meet weekly on Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at the Maryland Innovation Center, located at the Kenneth S. Ulman Innovation Hub in Columbia.  
Applications can be found online here, 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.  

“In this session, we are excited to integrate our BRITE and MIC program offerings into the curriculum, which will add new opportunities for local businesses,” said EDA President Larry Twele. “We appreciate the County Executive’s continued leadership and foresight in spurring on this critical program that supports 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, getting certifications, developing business plans, managing business and personal finances, sourcing capital, pricing strategies, risk management and business insurance, marketing strategies, and more.  

M&T Bank is excited to continue its partnership with Howard County with the fourth cohort of HoCo Higher entrepreneurs, and we look forward to inspiring a new set of business owners. This is a proven program that has helped to fuel the growth of several 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.

Jim Peterson
Vice President and Small Business Ambassador, M&T Bank
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