The 3rd, the Howard County Economic Development Authority and the Maryland Women’s Business Center have launched a retail incubator, MWBC Shop Local, in Downtown Columbia. The new entity is operating out of The 3rd’s community co-working space at 10215 Wincopin Circle.

Since its inception in 2019 in Rockville Town Square, MWBC Shop Local has been dedicated to lowering the barriers entrepreneurs frequently encounter. The incubator program equips participants with tools, resources and support, including one-on-one consulting, targeted training sessions, peer-to-peer networking, retail management skill development and financial support in six months, with two cohorts annually.

MWBC Shop Local’s expansion into Columbia underscores The 3rd, MWBC and HCEDA’s commitment to inclusivity, diversity and empowerment of women, with the inaugural cohort featuring five women entrepreneurs of color. It will also host interactive, maker-centered, public learning events, allowing the community to engage directly with the artisans.

“I’m thrilled to be able to support this initiative, expanding The 3rd’s impact by partnering with the Maryland Women’s Business Center,” said Del. Jessica Feldmark. “The Shop Local retail incubator program will help fill a critical gap in traditional economic development efforts, which have too often overlooked and under-served Women of Color entrepreneurs.”

“The 3rd is a place where community, business and experimentation connect,” said Laura Bacon, CEO for The 3rd. “I’m excited to bring five local women of color entrepreneurs into The 3rd’s space to expand their community, grow their business, and experiment with the ins and outs of running a brick-and-mortar retail business. I’m honored that they’ve chosen The 3rd as the spot for this crucial learning experience for their businesses.”

MWBC Shop Local will open to the public on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 12:30 p.m. All are invited to meet the artisans behind the products, take advantage of exclusive deals and grab limited giveaways. For more information, visit mwbcshoplocal.com and follow @mwbcshoplocal on Instagram.