ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Three local companies, Natoya Reid, DMD, LLC, American Bully Manufacturing LLC, and AppleCore's Bake Shoppe, were awarded $25,000 in prize funding after winning a pitch competition in Howard County’s entrepreneur accelerator program, HoCo Higher. The program, launched in 2021, is a partnership between County Executive Calvin Ball, M&T Bank and Howard County Economic Development Authority, and provided 10-weeks of training to 17 entrepreneurs. In addition to the pitch competition winners, each participant received $5,000 in seed funding. Photos of the event can be found here.

Small businesses create the economic engine that pushes Howard County forward and helps our community thrive. HoCo Higher is an innovative program that has helped entrepreneurs, especially those who are traditionally underserved, reach new heights and access important resources and support structures. We’re thrilled with this second class of changemakers who have come together and put forward new, thoughtful ideas that we’re excited to see come to life.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

All the entrepreneurs in the class participated in an elimination round pitch competition to determine 5 finalists which included: 

  • Natoya Reid, DMD, LLC | 1st Place | $15,000 | Healthcare
  • American Bully Manufacturing LLC | 2nd Place | $5,000 | Manufacturing
  • AppleCore's Bake Shoppe | 3rd Place | $5,000 | Retail
  • The Eudaimonia Center 
  • Vine Technology Solutions   

Over the past 10 weeks, entrepreneurs followed a curriculum curated by M&T Bank, the region’s top small-business lender. The curriculum included lessons from a diverse set of presenters 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. 

“Congratulations to another successful cohort of small business owners will investing in the future of their business,” said HCEDA CEO Larry Twele. “The partnership with M&T Bank is another great program offered at the Maryland Innovation Center to help grow business in Howard County.”

This second cohort of HoCo Higher entrepreneurs has helped raise the level of our program, and we look forward to using what we’ve learned from this group to make the program even better for the next cohort of business owners. We know the insights gained 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.

Rosa Scharf
Vice President and Relationship Manager, M&T Bank’s Greater Baltimore Minority and Women Owned Business Banking Team
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