In addition to the Carroll Business Path, Carroll introduced the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund in July.

The fund, comprised of $500,000 from the county and $500,000 from the state, was created to address the biggest need of new businesses, start-up funding.

Business owners have the opportunity to apply for a three-year loan up to $25,000 if they qualify. Requirements include that the business be located within the county with 25 full-time employees or less and the business owner must provide a letter of loan denial.

Weetman said the county is not intending to be competition for banks.

"We're looking for those (businesses) that just missed for some reason or another," he said.

At the end of the three-year loan, business owners are expected to apply for a line of credit with a bank, returning their business to the private sector and restoring the funding in Carroll's small business loan fund.

Carroll County has approved five loans since beginning to take applications in January.

Having a small business loan fund is not unique to Carroll.

According to Greg Cole, director of finance programs with the Maryland Department of Economic Development, there are 22 such loan funds throughout the state.

"That they (Carroll County) set up these funds clearly indicates that Carroll County is interested in stimulating small business," he said.

Cole said he has encountered programs similar to the Carroll Business Path in other counties, but couldn't say Carroll's program is unique because it's not something the state department of economic development is involved in.

Weetman said he has fielded calls from municipalities as far as Sonoma Valley, California, inquiring about the business path.

Carroll County Chamber of Commerce President Mike McMullin believes the business path has been working "really well" in its first year.

He has not seen another county with a similar, collaborative partnership.

"That in and of itself shows that everybody is working to try and help the small guy in this area," McMullin said.

With the ultimate goal of benefiting Carroll business owners, he said the program just needs more recognition before more businesses start opening their doors.

"It's only going to get better," McMullin said.