Carroll center to offer help to female entrepreneurs

Regional nonprofit group wins $750,000 U.S. grant

June 22, 1999|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

A center to support female entrepreneurs in rural Maryland will open July 1 in Taneytown with a newly awarded $750,000 federal grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Taneytown site will serve as headquarters for courses, one-on-one counseling, mentorship, a computer laboratory and an "entrepreneurial library" of books and videos.

The center will be available to women from rural parts of Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, Washington and Frederick counties, said Bea Checket, founder of the Women's Business Institute, a Baltimore and Annapolis organization that won and will administer the grant.

"The only thing we ask that you come with is an idea," said Checket, whose private, nonprofit institute is among 25 in the country to win one of the five-year grants.

The grants are designed to support women who own, or aspire to own, a business.

Checket has offices, telephones and 15 computers donated by Farmers and Mechanics Bank at its branch at 222 E. Baltimore St. in Taneytown. She asked Faye Cannon, president of the Frederick-based bank, for office space, and Cannon gave that and more.

"All we have to do is move our files," said Checket, who got informal word of the award at the beginning of this month and is in Washington this week for training in the administration of the grant.

Cannon said the center is one any bank president would be happy to support.

"Obviously, the statistics speak for themselves," said Cannon. "The rate at which women are opening their own businesses is phenomenal. We believe it's a great opportunity for, one, Taneytown to have the center, and also to provide the services to help women-owned businesses. It's good for the economic vitality of the city."

Checket said the center must match the federal grant of $150,000 a year for five years. The match can include in-kind donations such as rent, furniture and equipment by the bank, and fees that women pay for courses.

Use of the computer lab and the one-on-one counseling is free. Courses will cost from $35 for a one-week introduction to the Internet to $525 for a 12-week course for women who have been in business for more than two years and want to accelerate their businesses' growth.

Other activities will include a Women's Business Roundtable on Sept. 22, at which women can meet other business owners and bankers who can help them secure the capital to start or expand their enterprises.

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