News Article

Business owners complete AAEDC’s Inclusive Ventures Program
December 6, 2023


By: Staff

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Amy Gowan celebrated the latest cohort of business owners to graduate from AAEDC’s Inclusive Ventures Program (IVP), as well as the success and growth of the business accelerator and all of its previous graduates, during the second annual IVP Social Dec. 1.

The IVP Social took place following Pitch Day, when each of the 12 members of the ninth cohort presented business growth plans to a panel of expert judges and included Pittman and Gowan presenting each graduate with a certificate of completion and $5,000 check to be used for working capital.

Pittman and Gowan also presented IVP alumni Monica James and Jeremiah Batucan with inaugural IVP awards for Ambassador of the Year and Business of the Year.

The owner of Lilly’s Place, an assisted living facility in Glen Burnie, James received the Ambassador of the Year award for raising awareness of and advocating for IVP, including referring seven business owners to the program since her graduation in April 2023.

Batucan received the Business of the Year award for growing Peake Social, an adult social sports league based in Annapolis. The business experienced 100% year-over-year growth from 2021 to 2022 and contributed over $17,000 to local nonprofits in 2023 on behalf of its league members. Batucan volunteers his time to support local causes including hosting the first Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Festival in Anne Arundel County.

IVP expanded from two cohorts in 2021 and 2022 to five cohorts in 2023 thanks to the support of many sponsors and elected officials. BGE and the Maryland Small Business Development Center supported the program with $75,000 and $25,000 sponsorships, respectively, in 2023, and M&T Bank has signed on as a sponsor as well. Anne Arundel County committed over a million dollars in COVID relief funding to IVP, followed by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin securing an additional $1.65 million in federal funding, in 2022.

This support has allowed AAEDC to continue IVP through 2027, not only reaching more business owners but also further measuring its effect.

All IVP graduates are asked to take a brief survey 18 months after completing the program. According to these surveys, the 31 business owners who participated in cohorts one through three have created a net of 115 jobs and generated more than $7.8 million in revenue. In addition, 13 of the 31 have utilized additional AAEDC programs and resources and 11 of the 31 have physically expanded their businesses.

The AAEDC will host four sessions of IVP in 2024. For the first time this will include a Spanish language version of the program, reflecting Anne Arundel County’s and AAEDC’s shared commitment to making business resources more accessible to traditionally underserved business owners.

Introduced by AAEDC in January 2021, IVP aims to help small, minority-owned, woman-owned, and Veteran-owned businesses in Anne Arundel County by providing business education, access to capital and mentorship.

Cohort 9 of the Inclusive Ventures Program included:

  • Susanna Anderson, SRAM, Hanover
  • Tiffany Baccus, Intuitive Trucking, Glen Burnie
  • LaRhonda Edwards, Unlimited Solutions Adult Care 1-2-3, Glen Burnie
  • Theresa Egley, Integrity Construction Group, Inc., West River
  • Jayleen Fonseca, Jesse Jay’s Company, Churchton
  • Bryant Harris, Harris Chiropractic Care, Annapolis
  • Christopher Itnyre, Police Protection Services, LLC, Pasadena, Pasadena
  • Lauren Jenkins, The Journey 2 Well, LLC, Annapolis
  • Angela Quesada, Blendabowl, LLC, Glen Burnie
  • Katherine Shivers, Strata Language Services, Hanover
  • Di-Jae Smith, Smith Capital, LLC, Annapolis
  • Jeanne Ward, Applied Archaeology and History Associates, Crofton