ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced the launch of two programs aimed at boosting patronage of small and local businesses in Howard County. The Old Ellicott City Summer Bucks program and the Local HoCo campaign will provide incentives to patrons and businesses owners alike to encourage residents and visitors to shop local. Pictures from the event can be found here.

Our small and local businesses are the cornerstone of Howard County’s economy, creating vital jobs and driving continued investment in our community. Through the OEC Summer Bucks program and our Local HoCo campaign, I encourage all our residents, employees, and visitors to spend your dollars at our incredible and diverse array of local businesses. Together, we will continue to empower our entrepreneurs, support our workforce, and highlight the many small businesses that make Howard County a special place to live, work, play, grow, and thrive for all.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The OEC Summer Bucks program offers $10 vouchers to shoppers to spend at small and local businesses on Main Street in Historic Ellicott City. County Executive Ball is sponsoring the Summer Bucks program through a collaboration with the Ellicott City Partnership. Throughout the summer, the Ellicott City Partnership will distribute 2,000 Summer Bucks vouchers on a first-come, first-served basis. Summer Bucks can be picked up at the Howard County Welcome Center located at 8267 Main Street, Ellicott City, MD 21043. Summer Bucks are available now through Labor Day, while supplies last. 

As community leaders, we have a responsibility to support and engage each and every small business to ensure their growth and success. Summer can be a difficult time. Programs like the Summer Bucks vouchers and Visit Howard County’s Local HoCo campaign are vital to boosting the focus on small businesses at a time when it is sorely needed.

Julia Sanger
President, Ellicott City Partnership

“The OEC Bucks program is a wonderful and innovative example of Government working for the citizens and businesses of this community," said Dave Carney, Owner of the Wine Bin in Ellicott City. “Calvin has provided leadership and vision that has positively impacted our community and the greater county.”

The OEC Summer Bucks programs follows the success of OEC Holiday Bucks, which was launched by Ball in December 2018 following the devastating flooding in Ellicott City earlier that year. Since then, the businesses of Main Street have grown stronger; the last two years have marked the lowest commercial vacancy rate in Historic Ellicott City in 30 years. During the last year, there have been seven new businesses that have opened their doors on Main Street.

"Small businesses are the core of Maryland's economy, and nowhere is that more evident than our Ellicott City small businesses along Main Street,” said Maryland State Senator and Howard County Delegation Co-Chair Clarence Lam. “Through the leadership of Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and so many local and non-profit stakeholders, the establishment of the Summer Bucks program and the shop Local HoCo initiative demonstrates our community's commitment to support local businesses and ensure that Ellicott City remains a vibrant heart of our county.” 

“All the things that make Howard County a wonderful place to visit also make it an amazing to live,” said Maryland State Delegate and Howard County Delegation Co-Chair Jessica Feldmark. “Local HoCo is a great way for residents to discover and enjoy all of the amazing services, experiences, foods, beverages, products, and performances that our local small businesses have to offer while investing in our own hometown economy and helping Howard County thrive.”

“In Howard County, every purchase made at a locally owned business invests in our community,” said Kristi Simon, President & CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. “By shopping local, we encourage entrepreneurship, strengthen our workforce, and create a sustainable future by keeping our tax revenue right here at home.”

The Local HoCo campaign is a partnership between Howard County Government, Visit Howard County, the Howard County Economic Development Authority, and the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. Local HoCo will raise awareness and increase exposure for Howard County's small and local businesses through marketing and promotion. This includes a business directory, branding, and other awareness efforts.

To support the Local HoCo effort, Ball provided $200,000 in funding to Visit Howard County in his FY25 Operating Budget. Visit Howard County has launched a new Local HoCo website, where visitors can search a local business directory and where vendors can access branding and marketing resources.

“We are beyond excited about the launch of Local HoCo,” said Amanda Hof, Executive Director for Visit Howard County. “Our locally owned and operated businesses are an important part of what makes Howard County a unique and a one-of-a-kind place to visit, live, work, play, and thrive.”

“Local HoCo aligns perfectly with our economic development goals for Howard County,” said Jennifer Jones, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority. “By encouraging residents to support local businesses, we're fostering job growth, strengthening our tax base, and preserving the unique character of our community. This initiative is a practical way for every resident to contribute to Howard County's economic vitality.”

All Howard County-based businesses are encouraged to participate in the Local HoCo campaign to showcase local goods and services and encourage consumers to shop, dine, eat, drink, play, stay, and give local. Businesses wishing to participate in Local HoCo can learn more by visiting: https://www.visithowardcounty.com/shop-local-hoco/local-hoco-business-participation/.

“This campaign is about ensuring we have a vibrant and prosperous community for ALL,” said Adam Joss, Owner of Vertical Connection Carpet One. “There are numerous examples of communities that have benefited when residents choose to support local businesses and organizations.”

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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