HCEDA's Business Awards Banquet

Dick Story, center, former Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) CEO, speaks after receiving an HCEDA lifetime achievement award. Behind Story are Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, left, and Laura Neuman, current HCEDA CEO. (Steve Ruark, Patuxent Homestead / October 24, 2012)

A team is a team, whether it’s a sports team or a business team, and both worlds were present at the 2012 Howard County Economic Development Authority Business Awards.

The annual event is a big one: More than 300 people turned out for the reception, dinner and ceremony at Turf Valley Resort in Ellicott City Wednesday night. And, it had a big name to go along with it: Former University of Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams delivered the keynote address.

“Team-building is the same," Williams said before the awards ceremony and his speech. "Whether it's a big business or a small business, it's basically a team of people trying to be successful. ... The make-up of the team contributes to its success."

There are more than 25,000 businesses in Howard County, said HCEDEA CEO Laura Neuman, and the event is a way to celebrate those who start, grow or relocate their business in or to Howard County.

Winners of the 2012 HCEDA's business awards include United National Bankcard Services, Social Growth Technologies, ACell, Inc., Vytex Windows and Breezy Willow Farm.

For the first time, HCEDA honored a local non-profit, and chose to highlight the work of the Community Action Council, which helps local individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency and economic security. CAC runs a Howard County food bank and the HeadStart pre-school program, and provides housing and utility assistance to needy families.

Former HCEDA CEO Dick Story was also honored with a lifetime achievement award Wednesday night. Story served as leader of the development authority for 17 years before retiring to private consulting in 2011. All told, he spent 32 years in economic development in various counties in the state.

"His accomplishments are many, but they are only part of the story," Neuman said. "Dick worked tirelessly on behalf of Howard County for every one of his 17 years. His commitment to the county and the business community was, and is, extraordinary."

Story received a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd before delivering his acceptance speech. Story said it was an exceptionally special evening, because it included a tribute to Michael Galeone, former HCEDA board member and chairman, who passed away in August.

“It’s a validation, ” Story said of the honor, before the ceremony. “All the businesses I helped — it’s not just jobs, a tax base and the commercial sector. If people have richer, fuller lives because of it, if I have done that, I have done my job. That’s the bottom-line measure for me.”

During his keynote address, Williams recounted his coaching days at Maryland, the struggles he and his team overcame, and ultimately how they grew into a championship team.

"If the success comes pretty quick, you have to guard against letting that take you away from getting to being as good as you can be,” Williams said. 

A good basketball program is a part of the school, Williams said, in the same way a business is a part of a community.

“It’s not just the success of your business, but that you’re here, doing what you do, makes this a better place,” he said. “You have to fight to be successful. No one ever said it was easy, but the sense of accomplishment you get when you know you did it the right way, working hard enough to make it happen, is just a great feeling.”