HCEDA and Women-led Startups: 4 Initiatives to help women-led businesses grow and succeed

In the United States, there are more than 14 million small businesses owned by women, constituting nearly 40% of all businesses nationwide. These women-led enterprises wield a substantial economic influence, contributing a staggering $2.7 trillion in annual revenue and providing employment opportunities for approximately 12.2 million individuals. Howard County’s economic development too, hinges on encouraging more women-led business startups. And that’s where the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) plays a constructive role.

Making Women-led Startups a Reality

HCEDA plays a pivotal role in nurturing economic expansion and providing support to businesses in Howard County, Maryland. While the HCEDA extends its assistance across a diverse range of industries within the County, it also assumes a leadership role in empowering Howard County startup ventures led by women. Specifically, here’s how they assist women entrepreneurs in forming and expanding startup businesses:

  1. Business Support: The HCEDA provides a hands-on approach and knowledgeable staff to assist businesses of all types and sizes. They help entrepreneurs work through challenges and expand their ventures to the next level. Their personalized guidance is valuable for women entrepreneurs seeking to establish and grow their startups in Howard County.
  2. Leveraging Investment for Future Transformation (LIFT) Fund: The HCEDA administers the LIFT Fund, which offers microloans ranging from $10,000 to $30,000 for small businesses. These loans have a 3–5-year term and come with additional resources. Women entrepreneurs can leverage this fund to kickstart their ventures.
  3. Maryland Innovation Center (MIC): The MIC serves as an incubator and accelerator for startups. With over 60 resident and affiliate startups, it provides an ecosystem of support through mentorship, partnerships, and programming. Women entrepreneurs can benefit from the MIC’s resources and expertise as they navigate the startup landscape.
  4. BRITE Program (Business Revitalization Initiative Through Entrepreneurship): This program accelerates the journey from innovation to commercialization. It offers pathways to entrepreneurial success for early-stage startups and seasoned businesses in Howard County. Women entrepreneurs can access mentoring, marketing support, product development assistance, and pitching opportunities through BRITE.

As part of a range of Howard County economic development initiatives, the HCEDA actively supports women entrepreneurs by offering practical assistance, financial resources, and access to innovation hubs. Their commitment to creating a sustainable and inclusive business environment contributes to the success of women-led startups in Howard County.

Women + Startups: A powerful County-wide economic development force

Through a series of targeted efforts, the HCEDA aims to create an inclusive and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, fostering innovation and economic vitality. And that commitment includes encouraging women entrepreneurs and their start-up ventures.

  1. HoCo Higher Entrepreneur Accelerator Program: Since 2021, the HCEDA, in partnership with M&T Bank, has provided over $400,000 to HoCo Higher, an accelerator program specifically designed for early-stage entrepreneurs.
  2. The 3rd: With a commitment of $150,000, the HCEDA supports women of color entrepreneurs through The 3rd initiative.
  3. Black Women Entrepreneur Program with TEDCO: A collaboration with TEDCO, this program earmarked $418,000 (FY 2023) to bolster Black women entrepreneurs.

Howard County startup businesses, featuring women leaders, play a critical role in the County’s future. It’s time that more women entrepreneurs tap into the resources that HCEDA offers, to take their businesses from seedling to success!

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