The Howard County Economic Development Authority has opened applications for a fourth cohort of the highly successful HoCo Higher entrepreneur accelerator program. Conducted in partnership with M&T Bank, the 10-week boot camp will begin on Wednesday, April 19.

The program teaches early stage and historically underserved entrepreneurs the essentials of business planning, operations, credit building, digital communication and financial management.

Entrepreneurs selected to participate will follow a curriculum curated by M&T Bank. It will include lessons on legal business formation, obtaining certifications, developing business plans, managing business and personal finances, sourcing capital, pricing strategies, risk management and business insurance, marketing strategies and more.

Business mentors, coaches and subject-matter experts will lead the program at no cost to participants. Financial advisers will guide emerging and existing small business owners with lessons on best practices for their business’ success.
Howard County has awarded more than $300,000 to the three previous cohorts and provides participants the opportunity to enter a “shark-tank”-style pitch competition.

Participants will meet weekly on Wednesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Maryland Innovation Center, located at the Kenneth S. Ulman Innovation Hub in Columbia. Enrollment is based on a competitive application process. Applications can be found at

To be eligible, applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:
● At least two years in business operations, and
● Be a Howard County-based business and in good standing.

“This program is not only transformational for small businesses and entrepreneurs, but it provides critical support that is required in building more opportunities for underserved markets in Howard County,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “Since the first meeting of our inaugural cohort in September 2021, we’ve now enabled more than 60 graduates to reach new heights, access capital, and build connections. I encourage small business owners to apply for this unique and exciting opportunity to learn best practices and set their business up for success.”