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Editorial: Kudos to trio of women-owned Carroll County businesses honored by governor

On Tuesday, the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs brought its Ready, Set, GROW! Procurement Connections Workshop to Carroll County for the first time, hosting a workshop for some 40 businesses at Carroll Community College. The workshop, which is in its fifth year, serves to connect small business owners with buyers from state agencies and local partners and also offers tips on how to navigate the state’s procurement process,

But before the networking and presentations began, three Carroll County businesses run by women — Firehouse Pottery & Arts, Growing Ideas Sustainable Gardening, and Uncharted HR — received governor’s citations, presented by Jimmy Rhee, special secretary of the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, on behalf of Gov. Larry Hogan.

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It was nice to see this diverse group of recently started small businesses receive honors from the state that, according to Rhee, ranks first in the nation the percentage of women- and minority-owned businesses, ranks as the second most innovative state and has added 120,000 jobs since Hogan took office in 2015.

Firehouse Pottery & Arts, in Taneytown, started with painting pottery and has expanded to include canvas, glass, clay, and other mediums, owned by the mother-daughter duo of Melody Schell and Harmony Autry. “Being a woman-owned business, it’s super cool I get to work with my mom every day,” Autry told us. While the focus of the studio is creating art, Autry said the business is “way, way more than art." Autry said she wants Firehouse to be “a place that everyone can come to and feel safe," whether they’re young, old, or have disabilities.

Growing Ideas Sustainable Gardening was started by Mildred Rodman, of Mount Airy, whose vegan daughter Kate wanted to grow house plants in soil that was free of animal products. Mildred Rodman She used her knowledge as a master gardener to create “upcycled” potting mix. She learned that coconut potting mix is not only better for the environment — peat moss-producing bogs are depleted worldwide — it’s better for gardening, too. The company was a Carroll Biz Challenge finalist in 2018 and is another family affair: Rodman’s daughter designed the packaging and handles marketing, while her chemical engineer son helped develop the potting mix recipe, which even comes in bags that are compostable and made from recycled paper.

Westminster-based Uncharted HR was started just two months ago by Lee Ann Young, who has more than two decades of experience in the field. She told us that people are a company’s biggest expense and resource, Uncharted HR has experience in 13 states in industries such as manufacturing, health care, consumer services, insurance, nonprofit organizations, and more. She encourages other women to pursue their dreams of owning a business. “Living your life is the most important thing,” Young told us.

We salute all of these entrepreneurial women who have taken a risk; as Rhee said, running a small business is tough because the landscape on which you stand is constantly shifting. We are also glad the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs brought the event to Carroll and hope the 40 or so businesses in attendance take full advantage of the advice they received from the state and the many resource partners who made presentations.

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