County executive, Maryland Senator host forum focused on females entrepreneurship


More than a dozen female entrepreneurs filled the Frederick County ROOT at the Chamber of Commerce Monday. Some are established business owners; others are just getting their ideas off the ground.

“It was definitely overwhelming thinking about starting a business. I didn’t really know where to start. The first thing I thought was I should write a business plan, but I didn’t really know how to do that or what came after it,” admitted Carolyn West.

West is now the founder of Organize Me! LLC. Her business specializes in organizing homes and offices to de-clutter space and turn it into a livable place. She’s among the panel for Women Rising: A Forum for Women Entrepreneurs hosted by County Executive Jan Gardner and Senator Chris Van Hollen.

“One of the first questions is I’ve got a great idea but where do I go to implement it and what do I need to pull it together,” explained Senator Van Hollen.

One main resource in the county is the Maryland Women’s Business Center, where West says she turned to for help.

The center has guided about 300 entrepreneurs through the process of creating a business plan and working to secure funding.

But counselors here also consider the added obstacles of being female business leaders.

“It was overwhelming thinking about doing that while raising an infant but knowing that there was classes during the day when I could send [my son] to daycare. Time management was key,” West said.

Counselor at the Women’s Business Center and fellow business owner, Maria McElhenny explained one of the most important tasks is creating a clear picture of the business and reaching out for help in aspects of financing, marketing and more.

“Let’s set in motion strategies and tools that can help you do a ton more in less time and in less effort,” McElhenny said.  

And on Capitol Hill, Senator Van Hollen pledges to continue funding the Small Business Administration.

“Unfortunately the Trump administration budget calls for some pretty big cuts to the Small Business Administration, including Women Business Centers. We will be fighting back on those proposed cuts,” Van Hollen said.

Officials say from 2002 to 2012, the number of women-owned business in the county grew by 58-percent.

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