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Carroll County News

County to open Innovation Center for small business owners

Carroll County entrepreneurs and small-business owners will soon have an additional county resource to use as they attempt to expand their businesses.

The Carroll County Department of Economic Development and Westminster building design firm Overton & Associates have announced a public-private partnership that will create The Carroll Innovation Center at Overton along Md. 140 in Westminster.

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Located inside the Overton & Associates office building, the innovation center will house the county's small-business support services, such as the Carroll Business Path and the county's division of the Maryland Small Business Development Center. Office space will also be available for lease or to be used on a drop-in basis.

County officials will unveil the Carroll Innovation Center at Overton during a grand-opening ceremony Sept. 23.

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Overton & Associates, which consolidated its operations inside the building to create the center, is a Mid-Atlantic design-build firm specializing in the renovation and new construction of bank branches and operation centers for the financial industry.

"As a long-standing, successful business owner, I am pleased to enter into this Carroll County partnership to advance business startups in the community," Overton & Associates President John Overton said in a statement. "We have beautiful offices and a wealth of industry experience and resources to share. Our dream is to develop a creative and innovative environment for new businesses to flourish."

Over the past 2 1/2 years, nearly 500 entrepreneurs and small-business owners have contacted the Carroll Business Path, the county's program established to aid individuals in starting a business, according to Jon Weetman, an administrator at the Carroll County Department of Economic Development.

For Weetman, this is indicative of the strong entrepreneurial spirit in Carroll, but he believes a physical space for the program was missing in previous years.

"One thing I know: If you put entrepreneurs together, their ideas get better and the partnerships get better," he said.

The innovation center, about 13,000 square feet, will offer three distinct types of office space for businesses, including traditional offices and work spaces that can be used on a drop-in basis. The center will also have video conferencing rooms available and is open to any type of small business or startup.

"Westminster's prime location, along with the growing entrepreneurial activity, will be further enhanced with the centralized support services and professional office space geared toward new business ventures," Board of Commissioners President Dave Roush said in a statement. "A public-private venture like the Carroll Innovation Center at Overton is the best scenario to address small business needs."

The grand opening of the innovation center will coincide with the Pitch Across Maryland's bus stop in Carroll County, where entrepreneurs will pitch a new business or product idea during a video recorded inside the bus.

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Pitch Across Maryland is a three-week bus tour sponsored by Startup Maryland that offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to promote their ideas through two- to four-minute videos and a live competition later in the year.

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Started in 2012, the Pitch bus makes 20 to 30 stops across Maryland, highlighting business resources and innovative entrepreneurs statewide.

Carroll County entrepreneurs interested in making a pitch video during the Pitch Across Maryland stop in Westminster should contact Denise Beaver at 410-386-2070 or go online to http://www.startupmd.org for more information.

Reach staff writer Blair Ames at 410-412-4880 or blair.ames@carrollcountytimes.com.

If you go

What: Carroll Innovation Center Grand Opening and Pitch Across Maryland stop

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When: Sept. 23, 8:30 a.m.

Where: Overton & Associates, 909 Baltimore Blvd., Westminster


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