Howard Bank Names Impact Martial Arts the Winner of $10,000 in its Second Annual “Keep It Local” Contest

Selected from nearly 200 applicants, the Cecil County-based martial arts studio is voted the region’s favorite small business.

BALTIMORE, MD, June 30, 2020 – Howard Bank, a locally headquartered community-focused commercial bank serving businesses, professionals and individuals, today unveiled the winner of its Keep It Local contest. Launched last year to support businesses in and around the Baltimore region, the Keep It Local contest recognizes small businesses for their extraordinary work in the community.

Impact Martial Arts, a Cecil County-based, self-described “mom-and-pop” karate business takes home a $10,000 cash prize after receiving nearly 2,400 votes.

“We are so happy to present Impact Martial Arts with a $10,000 check and recognize the company and its owners George and Angel Celona as operating the Baltimore region’s favorite small business in our second annual Keep It Local Contest,” said Mary Ann Scully, CEO of Howard Bank. “This year has been a challenge for everyone with the struggles everyone is facing with COVID-19, but Impact Martial Arts has not only continued to teach its students but has worked to support its community. Their story of triumph over tribulation in years past as well as during this economic crisis should resonate well with small businesses throughout the region.”

Erica Starr, Senior Vice President and Director of Marketing at Howard Bank, noted that “Impact Martial Arts is a story of success.”

“In just 11 years, the Celonas have developed a thriving business and loyal following by not only teaching their students self-defense, but a philosophy based upon respect and discipline. It is a company with a clear mission and vision for the future. It also beat out nearly 200 eligible businesses that were nominated throughout the region.”

Last year, Rise ‘N Grind, another Cecil County small business, won Howard Bank’s inaugural Keep It Local contest as it proved to be a catalyst for the revival and redevelopment of downtown Rising Sun.  

Impact Martial Arts opened in 2008 during the Great Recession and the business struggled at first. But after their lease expired on a storefront in Aberdeen, they Celonas moved to Perryville Station and word spread that Impact Martial Arts was more than just throwing punches and kicks. The business took off and today it has 130 “ninjas.”

In their application, the Celonas wrote that their students are “everyday superheroes; they are our nurses, our little league players, military professionals, college-bound high schoolers and our peers. Our students are our greatest accomplishment.”

They plan to use the $10,000 to build their business and recruit more students. They also intend to give their lobby a “makeover” and sponsor a partnership with the Perryville Police Department Outreach Program.

This year’s Keep It Local contest began on May 4, 2020 and the bank received entries from people across the region nominating their favorite business. The bank whittled the list down to five companies in June: Charm City Books, Baltimore City; Impact Martial Arts, Millennial Marketing, Harford County; Tea by Two, Harford County; and Wire and Honey, Baltimore City.

Rules to the Keep It Local contest included:

  • The nominated businesses must be located within Howard Bank’s branch footprint, which includes Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Cecil, Harford, and Howard counties as well as Baltimore City.
  • Nominations must be submitted by business owners or employees of the business.
  • The nominated businesses and/or nominators do not have to be a Howard Bank customer.
  • Employees of Howard Bancorp and its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising, and promotion agencies, and their immediate families (spouse, parents, children, siblings, and their spouses) are not eligible to win. Employees of Howard Bancorp may not nominate or vote in the contest.

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