“IGNITE Charles County” Business Resource Fair
Those of us who work in economic development and partner agencies are often asked: How do I get free money to start a business? We’re used to explaining that no, there is no free money. But yes, there is still a lot of other help and support for a business owner or entrepreneurial dreamer who wants to start or grow a business.
We call them resource partners. They are government or quasi-government agencies and programs that provide assistance to businesses. Some are targeted to specific industries such as technology, manufacturing, government contracting, or farming. Some provide free- or low-cost services such as education, counseling, hiring assistance, networking or training; others provide access to capital such a loans and investor pitching. Others are specific to women and minorities; some target veterans. But no matter the focus, all are staffed by smart, experienced people who understand the needs of the entrepreneur and are positioned to provide assistance.
Our Economic Development Department collaborates with our resource partners on a regular basis, and we often refer businesses to them. While we are familiar with the region’s business resource partners, they can only assist the business people who know they are there.
So, we had an idea, and we talked to one of our most important resource partners, the College of Southern Maryland (CSM), home to the Entrepreneur and Innovation Institute, the Small Business Development Center, and the Corporate Training Center. We suggested CSM and the county’s Economic Development Department host an event, bringing all the region’s business resource partners together in one big room so that local business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs can quickly and easily learn more about all these services and connect with the right resources. The CSM team agreed, and event planning got underway.
Mark your calendar for the first IGNITE Charles County Business Resource Fair on Friday, May 12, from 8 a.m. to 3p.m. at the Center for Business and Industry (BI) building on the CSM La Plata campus. Resource partners will be on site throughout the day with information about their services and programs. Pick up information, talk one-on-one with exhibitors, make connections, and find out more about the full scope of resources available to help grow businesses and support entrepreneurship in Charles County.
During the event, we will also present an IGNITE session — at 10 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. Six entrepreneurs will provide brief — five minute — overviews of their own businesses and how they were able to “ignite” success with the help of resource partners.
The event is free for anyone to attend, but please let us know you are coming by registering at https://ignitecharles. eventbrite.com. As planning for the event continues, we will also post details and updates on our website, www. MeetCharlesCounty.com/IGNITECharles.
And as always, if you need more information about this or anything else, you can contact our office at 301-885-1340.
Marcia Keeth is the deputy director of the Economic Development Department.