January 29, 2021

Inclusive Ventures Program – Anne Arundel County

NEWS RELEASE: New Inclusive Ventures Program Aims to Retain and Expand Minority Businesses in Anne Arundel County

January 29, 2021

Annapolis, Maryland (January 29, 2021) – 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 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.

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 Nemphos Braue, LLC and a board member of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and
  • LaKia Bourne – Owner and CEO of Synergy Accounting Services.

Carlos “CJ” Santos will serve as a mentor.

Watch the press conference: County Executive Steuart Pittman joined AAEDC CEO Ben Birge to unveil the new initiative aimed at retaining and expanding small, minority, women and veteran owned businesses in Anne Arundel County.

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.”

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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