At Howard Bank, we care about here and our mission “to build enduring legacies for our customers, our employees and our community” doesn’t stop in times of uncertainty. In fact, the tough times make us work even harder. Our Keep It Local contest was designed to find a local small business that goes above and beyond in their community. They are the heart-and-soul of our community and need our help now more than ever.
Nominations accepted: Monday, May 4th - Friday, May 22nd at 9 pm.
The Top 15 voting round: Monday, June 1st - Monday, June 8th at 11:59 pm.
The Top 5 voting round: Monday, June 15th - Monday, June 22nd at 11:59 pm.
The winner will be announced on Tuesday, June 30th.
You will only be able to vote once. Download our official rules here.
In 2003, the current owner of Aberdeen Veterinary Clinic purchased the well-known Veterinary Clinic in Aberdeen of Harford County. Since purchasing the clinic over 16 years ago, the clinic has grown and changed to offer new and cutting edge procedures that the owner never expected after graduating from veterinary school back in 2001. One of her greatest accomplishments is the continuation of her education with new certifications in Acupuncture, Food Therapy, Tui Na, Palliative Care and End of Life, and Medical Manipulation (Chiropractic) to name a few. Ove the years, the Aberdeen Veterinary Clinic has been able to give back to the community by working with multiple rescue groups to provide low to no-cost services to help animals in need. Some of these rescues include: Maremma Rescue, Mastiff to Mutts, and Operation Cat Snip. In addition, the owner donates her time by giving talks and lectures to sixth graders about neurology and acupuncture and their effects on the nervous system. If Aberdeen Veterinary Clinic were to win the $10,000, they would use the funds to set up a fund for sick or stay animals needing care through a rescue. They would also use a portion of the funds to pay for vaccines and preventatives for clients who need assistance. The remainder would be used for updates to the clinic.
Annapolis Music Therapy (AMT) is a female owned and led small business. The company has been using the power of music to serve vulnerable populations in Anne Arundel County for the last seven years. They are a hub of creativity that the local disability community recognizes as a place where all are loved, accepted, and given platforms to be who they truly are through music. AMT supports diverse groups of people through evidence-based music interventions, which includes adults and older adults in group homes and assisted living facilities, clinic-based pediatric services, educational services for children in special education programs, and trauma-informed mental health services in partnership with Argo Counseling and Wellness. Their greatest accomplishment has been their rapid transition to providing telehealth services to be able to continue serving those in need during the pandemic. While their main mission is their clinical practice, they also support the community through three free and low-cost music programs: intergenerational music programs, inclusive developmental music classes, and wellness-focused drum circles. These programs have helped children to say their first word, turned strangers into friends, and creates a new community of its own through music. If AMT were to win the $10,000, they would dedicate over 75% of the funds to mental health music therapy scholarships for community members coping with COVID-related trauma. The scholarships would support first responders and healthcare workers, children under 13 and individuals 14+, as well as family centered music therapy sessions aimed to reconnect isolated seniors with their relatives. The remainder of the funds would be used for business expenses.
Black Eyed Susan Coffee, Candy, Cream, & More is a one-stop shop for all things Maryland. The shop is located in Glyndon, a historic district of Baltimore County, and is comprised of merchandise made or distributed in Maryland, along with Maryland themed items. Although the company has received several awards and recognition, their greatest accomplishment has been their ability to inspire a young generation through their Business Mentorship Program. The program is designed to encourage the young men and women to take adversity and create positivity. As a woman-owned business, they celebrate the store’s anniversary each year by honoring a female change-maker in the community. In addition, they sponsor, contribute, and donate to every request they receive to local non-profits, schools, and churches. As the Shop Small Business captain, the owner works with neighboring merchants to help provide them with marketing materials and social media support. With the theory of success in numbers, the owner coordinates Sip, Shop, & Stroll events where the community can support local through a wine tasting and shopping event. If Black Eyed Susan Coffee, Candy, Cream, & More were to win the $10,000, they would use the funds, in conjunction with the Glyndon Historical Society, to throw a celebration commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Glyndon District in 2021. The funds would also be used to develop a line of exclusive apparel and gifts with the proceeds beneting the Historical Society.
Bry Overhead Door Service was established almost six years ago in the Fair Hill area of Cecil County. Having reached nearly 2,000 Facebook likes and over 100 five-star reviews, the owner accredits his honesty, reliability, dependability, and professionalism to his success. His supportive community and family inspires him to keep going. Bry Overhead Door Service was named the Business of the Year in 2019 from the North East Chamber of Commerce and was the #2 Garage Door Company in Maryland from the Top Rated Local in 2019. The company supports the community as much as possible. They have donated everything from time to money to their community. Some examples include donating equipment and breakfast sandwiches to the Elkton Little League and the Cecil Wolfpack sports teams, regularly participating in the community fair offering contests and prizes. They also give away Thanksgiving dinners to families in need in their community. The company also hosts an Ugly Door Contest providing the winner a new garage door and donating garage door openers to help benefit the local community. If Bry Overhead Door Service were to win the $10,000, they would give a portion back to those in need in their community, as well as update their shop/office area. The remaining funds would go towards advertising materials.
Charm City Books opened in October of 2019 and has hosted 15-25 events each. From hip hop Shakespeare to hand tie bouquet workshops, they have introduced southwest Baltimore to a sampling of community events, activities, and literature on Main Street in historic Pigtown. They are dedicated to enriching the lives of their neighbors, providing a sanctuary for youth to participate in open mics and skill sharing workshops. They provide employment opportunities and are building an online platform to include their Once Upon a Story Time series, Author's Salon, and a Live from 782 Mini Concert series. Charm City Books is part of the movement to showcase the abundance of beauty, brilliance, and love that Baltimore artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs are bringing to the world. In their short time of business, their greatest achievement has been providing emotional relief during the pandemic. With school shut down, they filming and uploading story time episodes and pivoting to an online operation to deliver books. Charm City Books collects over 200 books for students to take home or have in their school libraries by creating an opportunity for customers to purchase books on teachers’ wish lists. This is their Pay It Forward program. They also started the Charm City Cares initiative to provide care packages for the essential workers of UMD Medical Center in Baltimore. If Charm City Books were to win the $10,000, they would use the funds for equipment, material, and labor for their online programming and continue their support of the community.
Since 1993, Chesapeake Environmental Management, Inc. (CEM) of Harford County has provided scientific and engineering services to private and public clients focused on building and maintain critical infrastructure. Comprised of geologists, hydrologists, geographers, and more, they take pride in applying practical science to improve, enhance, and build their communities. Simply put, they ensure the community’s drinking water and roads are safe, among other things. Their commitment to serving the community is inspired by Winston Churchill who said “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” The CEM team embraces that notice in everything they do. They have donated scientific equipment to school, provided scholarships to students wanting to make a difference, and funded environmental programs. The company set a goal in 2010 to share $1 million of their profits by the year 2025. So far, they have donated $633,490 through their Charitable Giving Program. CEM was named them the 2014 Small Business of the Year for the state of Maryland by the US Small Business Administration. This award inspired the creation of the America’s Commerce Corps group, which aims to recognize small businesses contributing to the community. If CEM were to win the $10,000, they would use the funds to develop a national program through the America’s Commerce Corps group to champion small businesses and recognize their contributions.
Impact Martial Arts first opened in Aberdeen in 2008 just before the Economic Recession. After a year of struggles, they were forced to find a new location. Re-committed to their goals,
Koshary By Misteka (KBM), was established in 2018 in Howard County to enrich the vegan/gluten-free market with delicious alternatives straight from the land of the pharaohs. Koshary, the national dish of Egypt, is a healthy, fiber and protein-packed, customizable bowl. Named as one of 75 gems in Maryland by the Baltimore Sun’s Dining Magazine, their #donteatalone campaign aims to fight hunger in the community. Through this campaign, they donate one fee meal for every three koshary meals sold. They have partnered with four local charities to channel their donations. Their in-store system allows the customer to pick which of the four organizations they would like to donate to and in turn, helps customers truly share a meal and realize the meaning of the campaign slogan #donteatalone. They have been able to donate 2,860 free meals through this campaign. They have also donated 350 meals to their local medical staff and 70 meals to the local essential workers. If KBM were to win the $10,000, they would use the funds to continue their operations and mission which have been strained due to the pandemic. More specifically, the funds would be used for paying rent, keeping their team employed, and serving their customers fresh meals.
Millennial Marketing is a digital marketing agency dedicated to supporting the small business owners, side-hustlers, and dreamers in Harford County. They provide social media marketing, website design and management, email newsletters, and more. In its two years, the company has helped over 70 small businesses reach their goals. Their mantra is "Community Over Competition" so they are always finding ways for their community to work together. They have hosted dozens of networking events, as well as organized and sponsored several fundraisers to benefit small businesses and non-profits in the area. The owner is also a board member for several Harford County non-profits and offers pro-bono services to those in need. Millennial Marketing creates and manages Facebook Groups specifically geared toward building up and connecting the entrepreneurs and influencers in the area. Most recently, they started the Harford County Small Business Support group to share valuable resources during the coronavirus pandemic. If Millennial Marketing were to win the $10,000, they would put it directly back into the community by way of grants or scholarships to the brand new or struggling businesses. They would also provide those businesses with marketing training and social media management skills. A portion would be used to purchase gift cards from the local businesses for giveaways and raffle prizes. The remainder would be put towards their programs like Harford County's Local Influencer Program (HarCo's LIP) which connects small businesses with local influencers and community advocates, and the Dream Program which helps entrepreneurs get connected to resources and members in the community.
In May 2016, Park Ridge Trading Co. opened and featured locally sourced honey and preserves, baking mixes, spices, kitchen tools, linens, and more. By the end of July 2016, a deadly flash flood devastated the historic town of Ellicott City in Howard County. The flood completely destroyed the store. The building was eventually renovated and reopened February 2017. Park Ridge Trading Co. offered space in their building to five other businesses still working towards their renovations. By May 2018, a second flash flood destroyed the store and town again. They used their re-renovated space to create a collaborative community project to serve as a free, interactive exhibit on the 2018 flood. The hope was to educate visitors about the town and flood. A gift shop allowed local businesses to market their fundraising items. A special area commemorated a local National Guardsman who lost his life in the flood, with information about a scholarship established in his honor. The exhibit, open for two months, raised over $30,000 for other businesses. Park Ridge Trading Co. decided to reinvest in the community by purchasing an ice cream parlor. Both businesses allow them to donate to non-profits, host fundraisers, and show that the community is stronger together. Each month, they choose a local nonprofit each month and donate a percentage of their profits. If Park Ridge Trading Co. were to win the $10,000, they would use the funds to develop their own products. This would allow them to make products and continue their business model to “Live Well, Give Back.”
Snake Hill, a grill/bar situated in the heart of Highlandtown in Baltimore, turns five this year. The corner bar has become a touted piece of the charm and diversity of their neighborhood. The owners personally gutted the space and rebuilt it with the good bones and character it possessed in mind. They are most proud of this feat as they realized the fruits of their own labor with turning an old, Irish Pub into the Snake Hill it is today. It was designed to feel as welcoming and familiar as a friend’s house. When building a business in someone’s backyard, they feel it is imperative to be and actual good neighbor. True to this mantra, they host many community events and even house Amazon packages for the neighborhood so as to be a good neighbor to those on South Clinton Street. They actively participate in the community events and allow local artists to display and sell their artwork at Snake Hill. During the pandemic, they have helped to feed nurses and caretakers, extended their reach to hospital sites, and even provide free drinks and specials to boost community morale. If Snake Hill were to win the $10,000, they would use it to continue providing free lunches to the frontline workers, book outreach events, and most importantly, continue to pay their staff regardless of their uncertain future. Their goal is to continue to provide a sense of normalcy and optimism for their employees and their community.
The idea for Success In Style (SIS) came when a fashion designer and style consult realized all the perfectly good but unneeded clothing was being consigned to landfills. With the help of a friend, SIS was founded in Ellicott City in 2001. By 2002, SIS became a non-profit 501(c)(3) and incorporated. Their mission was to help at-risk and in-crisis women by providing free suits and coaching to prepare them for job interviews and to bring dignity to them and their families. But 18 years later, they have grown their footprint to help men and women alike. SIS strives in everything it does to uplift, inspire, and show respect because people are more likely to believe in themselves if you believe in them first. Not only is SIS proud of the help they provide their clients, but also their sustainable cycle. Their community helps by donating clothes. By upcycling, they keep clothing from the landfills and the funding from clothing sales help to support their mission. Their greatest achievements are realized in the lives they help to change every day. If Success In Style were to win the $10,000, they would put it toward securing a mobile unit. Many of SIS’s clients rely on public transportation, but there are many who need their help and are still unable to get to a SIS location. A mobile unit would allow them to partner with organizations that need their resources so they can eliminate one critical obstacle for those in need.
The owners of Tea by Two had a goal to create a place where people could step out of their hectic lives and relax for an hour or two over a pot of tea and selection of scones, sandwiches, and desserts. In a nutshell, they wanted to share their love of tea with their community, and they did so in 2001 by opening their business in Harford County. Tea by Two is most proud of the customers who frequent their tea room over the past 19 years. They have been seeing new generations of tea lovers who first came to the tea room as a child but are now grown and bringing their children. Tea by Two has hosted many birthdays, graduations, and wedding and baby showers. Sharing these special celebrations, they feel their customers are more like family. Tea by Two has hosted fund raising teas for Cancer awareness and Sjogren’s disease. Most recently, they created Hannah’s Hope tea and donate all of the sales profit to Hannah’s Hope Foundation. Hannah was a local girl who celebrated her 8th birthday at Tea by Two, but was unfortunately a victim of human trafficking and passed away at the age of 19. If Tea by Two were to win the $10,000, they would use the money to reconfigure their space to provide a better workflow. They would also use the funds to improve their online shopping experience to better serve and continue to support their community.
Touche Touchet Bakery and Cafe is a pastry shoppe with a French and Cajun flair in Howard County. In their 14-year history. Touche Touchet has won many awards, including Best Bakery in Howard County for ten consecutive years, as well as first and second place in the Pillsbury Grand Championship Cake Decorating Contest. Despite these wonderful accmplishments, their greatest accomplishment is their customer loyalty. Over the years, the bakery has embraced many community interests. They have supported the Special Olympics, Gilchrist Hospice Center, Grass Roots Crisis Intervention Center, the Howard County Library, and more. They also helped a local, young girl by creating a "save the seals" cookie with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. They have participated in cook fundraisers for breast cancer awareness as well. Most recently, they've stayed open during the coronavirus crisis to keep the community fed. If Touche Touchet were to win the $10,000, they would share the prize with their employees to reward the staff for working long hours while giving twice the effort during the pandemic. They helped to support the shift in business by offering curb-side service and helped to manage the increase in online sales. A portion of the prize would also go towards cosmetic improvements to the bakery that are showing wear and tear over their 14 years.
As a mom, Wire and Honey's owner asks herself everyday "How do I know if we are raising a good human?" Wire and Honey believes it is never too early to teach your children the values of love, compassion, diversity, and acceptance. They strive to make clothing that addresses social issues in kid friendly ways. Their tees allow for teachable moments and honest conversations about issues that affect children all over the city, country, and the world. Over the last 5 years, Wire and Honey has grown to support more than 30,000 customers world-wide and has partnered with nationally recognized non-profits. They've been able to donate thousands of dollars to non-profits that they are passionate about. Each year, they work with the Shoes That Fit non-profit to provide new athletic shoes to students in Baltimore City that need them the most. Over the last two years, they've been able to donate almost 300 new shoes to a local elementary school in Baltimore. Their ultimate goal is to start their own nonprofit to be able to give even more back to Baltimore City. If Wire and Honey were to win the $10,000 they would put it towards inventory, equipment, and the rent and utilities needed to expand their business into a storefront, as well as hiring an employee with the ultimate goal of having even more of a presence in their local community.