In Howard County, we are committed to supporting our businesses so that they thrive. In order to fulfill that mission, I, along with ambassadors from the Howard County Economic Development Authority, visit more than 100 local businesses each year during Business Appreciation Week to hear directly from our entrepreneurs about how we can help them.
This year, Business Appreciation Week will be October 23-27. If you would like our team to visit your business this October, please visit HCEDA’s website to reserve your free spot. Space is limited and registration will close on Monday, October 9.
As your Howard County Executive, I greatly enjoy visiting local businesses and meeting the people behind their success. I recently had the honor of joining the Moore family to celebrate 50 incredible years as a Pick-Your-Own Farm at Larriland Farm in Woodbine. They are a one-of-a-kind pick your own fruits and vegetables farm. I even got to pick some juicy, sweet, in-season strawberries myself! Their open season runs through November, so make sure to check it out for all the in-season local fruits and vegetables.
Of course, we can’t talk about supporting our businesses without developing a strong workforce. In Howard County, we are helping our young people become workforce ready with our Summer Youth Program. The year before I became County Executive, only 11 of our young people were able to take advantage of this opportunity. This year, we will have over 150 participants! Our young people will gain invaluable experience working in the real world with local businesses. This will provide them with critical skills as they continue through high school and beyond. I also firmly believe this partnership strengthens community ties as members of the community work with local businesses.
In June, the Columbia Workforce Center hosted an IT hiring event. The U.S. Cyber Command Federal Highway Administration, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Howard County Government and Howard County FRS all participated in the event. We are always looking for ways to connect people to great jobs here in Howard County.
Lastly, to make sure all our businesses are able to maximize opportunities, I recently announced the launch of Howard County’s first-ever Disparity Study. Supporting our businesses is a priority for me. This study, which is expected to take 18-24 months to complete, will evaluate and improve current policies and practices to ensure all businesses, including those minority, woman and disabled-owned, are given equal opportunity to procure contracts with the government. When I first was elected as your Howard County Executive five years ago, only 100 firms were certified in the Local Business Initiative with the Office of Procurement and Contract Administration. Today, I’m proud to say there are nearly 375 firms with almost $23 million spent to date with certified local businesses.
In Howard County, we prioritize the health of our businesses and entrepreneurs so our whole community can thrive.