“IG­NITE Charles County” Busi­ness Re­source Fair

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

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.

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