Baltimore Data Week is offering a look at tools that can be used to explore stats and trends across many categories of life. At one session, the focus turned to the data behind small businesses and entrepreneurship in the region.
The Tuesday panel was a mix of a live workshop and resource guide, as Baltimore City Chief Data Officer Justin Elszasz and Pava LaPere, CEO of EcoMap Technologies, both showcased tools to find businesses in the community, and resources for business growth, such as funding, accelerators and bootcamps.
Moderated by Kristina Williams, executive director of the Charles Village Community Benefits District, the webinar started with Elszasz showcasing Baltimore’s digital directory of minority and women-owned businesses.
Although a Baltimore City-built directory, the businesses of the surrounding metro area in Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Howard County, to name a few, are included in the directory and encouraged to get certified.
Businesses can find information on the mayor’s office website about the certification process for a business to appear in the directory.
In a few weeks since the directory’s launch, there has been an increase in functionality for the MBE/WBE Finder, with more search tools and a color coding of businesses that makes the map vibrant and pop.
LaPere presented resources created by her team, including Baltimore EcoMap and Maryland Entrepreneur Hub. Both are places where entrepreneurs can go to find whatever kind of resource they may need. Baltimore EcoMap debuted in 2019, bringing an AI-powered tool for local resources. Then, in April of 2021, EcoMap launched Maryland Entrepreneur Hub in partnership with TEDCO, the Maryland Department of Commerce and the University System of Maryland to provide a statewide database of funding, fellowships, media sources and incubators. If a startup needs it, the resource is probably there.
“At the end of the day, funding is always the one people are going to be looking for,” said LaPere. “Because that is what’s pretty sparse in the Baltimore ecosystem and is inequitably distributed.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-