Rebuilding Ellicott City Businesses
After the devastating flood hit Ellicott City in 2016, the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of Maryland, College Park worked to help businesses get back on their feet. Garrett Glover, who oversees the SBDC efforts, identified a need for owners to establish or enhance their online presence during the recovery and beyond. He knew HCC could be an important partner in this project.
“A primary relief tactic was to develop alternative revenues for merchants whose businesses were demolished, and e-commerce immediately came to mind. But, most had no online presence and none had the ready capital,” said Glover. “The solution? To create a no-cost, public/private partnership between the SBDC, Howard Community College, and Columbia’s SCD Information Technologies, Inc. Leveraging the capabilities of its tech savvy students, HCC effectively became the hub for the SBDC’s initiative to bring the prospect of e-commerce functionality to Ellicott City merchants.”
Since fall semester 2016, nearly a dozen HCC entrepreneurship and computer science students have worked with Entrepreneurship Associate Professor Roger Weber and Computer Science Instructor Paul Hogan to help 14 Ellicott City businesses. This student-run group, known as the Ellicott City Project, provides students of various skill levels and interests the opportunity to have work experience while supporting local businesses. Through the Ellicott City Project, students have built websites, designed logos, created e-commerce stores, shot videos, and even set up social media accounts to help owners promote their businesses.
“The Ellicott City Project has afforded students an exceptional opportunity to learn by working with real business firms in identifying their issues and goals, analyzing their situation and problems, and developing and constructing solutions that work within the context of the business’s brand and its desired customer experience,” explained Weber.
“The best way to learn is by doing. Working on the Ellicott City Project has allowed me to apply what I have been learning in the classroom to real business situations. This experience has been invaluable, “ says Monique Robinson, student and website developer.
To read more about how HCC students are working for the benefit of our Howard County Community, read the Spring 2018 issue of Pathways magazine, available online and in print in May.