Ideas for a better future

CCBC's Center for Innovation works to expand the economy one business at a time.

The Center for Business Innovation is dedicated to serving CCBC students and alumni who are interested in learning how to turn their ideas for new products, services, business and organizations into sustainable entities. Entrepreneurial-minded students and alumni are mentored by School of Business, Education, Justice & Law faculty and local business owners.

Our goals:
  • promote entrepreneurship among students & alumni
  • foster economic development in the community
  • help students apply classroom concepts to real world challenge

Center for Business Innovation offerings

Entrepreneurship Classes

Earn credits and learn how to launch a business.

In addition to offering ACBSP accredited business and management courses, CCBC also offers a unique course, MNGT 216, that allows students to serve as consultants to a start-up so they can apply the principles and concepts in the classroom to a real business.

Students earn 3 credits in this unique elective. There are no exams and there are no textbooks. Instead, students evaluate each other's performance as they work in teams to help a business get started. Leading the students is Associate Professor Dennis Sullivan, who has launched more than 100 products and businesses in his career.

Why Entrepreneurship?

In nearly all of our business studies classes at CCBC, more than half of our students say they would like to start a business someday. National research supports this trend. Among Gen Y students, those between 18 and 29, the third-most common college major is “entrepreneurial studies,” according to

A Kauffman Foundation report adds that there are now 2,335 full-time undergraduate and graduate programs in the U.S. to meet the growing demand for students interested in studying entrepreneurship. It’s not crazy to think that businesses can be started while taking college classes or soon afterwards.

Google, Time, Reddit, Insomnia Cookies, Fed Ex, Microsoft, Dell and Facebook were all started by their founders while still in college. All started as small businesses. In fact, 89.3% of all U.S. businesses employ less than 20 people, according to the United States Census Bureau. In Maryland, 85.2% of businesses have less than 20 employees.

Learning how to launch a product or idea is a skill that is in high demand today. One out of three employers are looking for employees who have a background in entrepreneurship, according to a survey by Experience Inc.

Business Plan Competition

Turn your idea into a winning plan and earn seed money.

The Annual Business Plan Competition is open to students and alumni of CCBC who are interested in turning their idea for a new product or service into a business.

Have an idea for a new product, service or business? Submit your business plan to CCBC’s Center for Business Innovation Annual Business Plan Competition (BPC) and you could win up to $10,000 in seed money. A total of $28,500 in seed money will be award to the top 6 winners. The winners are also eligible to participate in the Center for Business Innovation (CBI) incubation network that provides support in the areas of marketing and sales, website development, technology, accounting, human resources, management as well as access to investors and creditors, which can be invaluable for any start-up. The competition is designed to promote start-up ideas and economic development among CCBC students and alumni with the support of faculty and local entrepreneurs.

Here's how it works:
  • Students interested in entering the competition must first submit an “Intent to Participate” email or registration that simply states that you would like to participate in the competition. Students and alumni may enter as individuals or as teams.
  • Participants are encouraged to attend 3 business plan workshops focused on developing a strategic plan, a marketing plan and a financial plan as participants work on their business plan.
  • A Screening Round is the initial review of plans by CCBC faculty in which the top 12 business plans are selected to advance to the final round.
  • The Center for Business Innovation will match the top 12 finalists with mentors who can help prepare the finalists for the final round of the competition.
  • The 12 finalists will make their business plan presentations to a panel of judges. The judges will choose the top 6 winning participants.

What do the Top 6 Award Winners get?

A total of $28,500 that will be awarded to the top 6 finalists to help the promote the business. Here is how the seed money is awarded:
  • First place winner receives up to $10,000;
  • Second place receives up to$7,500;
  • Third place winner receives up to $5,000;
  • Fourth place winner receives up to $3000;
  • And two runner-ups will receive up to $1,500 each.
The top 6 award winners also receive:
  • Invitation to work with CBI’s incubation network in which a class of students who can help implement the business plan during the spring semester. The winners will receive support in the areas of marketing and sales, website development, technology, accounting, human resources, management and will gain access to investors and creditors.
  • Scholarships to attend a 11-week course designed to help entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses.
  • Up to four one-hour coaching sessions with experts in the business community on such topics as accounting, legal, marketing, insurance, information technology, and project management.
Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to participate in the Business Plan Competition, one of the following conditions must be met:
  • Current or former CCBC students with at least 15 credit hours successfully completed in any discipline within the last five years.
  • An alumnus of CCBC who has graduated with a credit degree or credit certificate.
  • A non-credit graduate of any of the certificate or apprenticeship programs offered by CCBC.
  • A student in the final year of a non-credit apprenticeship program offered by CCBC.
Those who already have a business started may participate as long as they meet one of the criteria above and have less than $100,000 in revenue, no more than 2 full-time employees and haven’t been in business more than 3 years. You can participate individually or as a team. All team members must also meet the same eligibility requirements.

Previous winners of the competition are not eligible.

Business Mentorship

Mentor other entrepreneurs. Receive mentoring from entrepreneurs.

If the greatest athletes and most successful CEOs need coaches, a new business owner certainly could benefit from a mentor too. That's why participants in the Annual Business Plan Competition are matched with business owners who can help guide them and advise as they work on their business plans. Call it our secret sauce. It's an unique opportunity for participants to get valuable advice from other entrepreneurs and for business owners to share their unique experiences and passion for business.

Mentors who have served as volunteers to entrepreneurs include:
  • Laurence Aaronson, Professor Emeritus, CCBC
  • Eli Adams, General Manager, Residence Inn at Marriott
  • Bilal Bahar, Owner, Global Adventure Group
  • John Bowen, CPA, Assistant Professor, Accounting, CCBC
  • James Bryant, Associate Professor & Coordinator of Accounting, CCBC
  • Paul Coakley, Professor Emeritus, former Chair of Business Studies, CCBC
  • David Gnibus, Adjunct Faculty, Student Services, CCBC
  • Tim Faith, Esq., Assistant Professor, Legal, CCBC
  • Robert Frey, Vice President, The Columbia Bank
  • Jennifer Joyner, Assistant Professor & Coordinator of Economic, CCBC
  • Rafael E. Reyes, Technical Service Director, Toyota
  • Kelly Lemons, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, Accounting, CCBC
  • Aleasha Lewis, Owner, EarthTouch Healing Arts
  • Donna Mandl, M.A., J.D., Department Chair, Legal, CCBC
  • William Osborne, Assistant Professor, CCBC
  • Sheryl Parks, MSF, CFP, Associate Professor, Financial, CCBC
  • Dan & Maude Swearingen, Owners, Fully Promoted
  • Jay Whitelock, Associate Professor, Finance Department, CCBC
  • Nancy Zimmerman, Associate Professor, Business Studies, CCBC

Business Tools and Guidance

Maryland Small Business & Entrepreneur Resource Guide
Maryland's network of people and programs for entrepreneurs and small businesses, which includes help with permits and licensing, procurement and financing, and export assistance — all this and more to help you meet your business goals.

Entrepreneurship & Small Business Resource Guide
This is an excellent tool with a long list of resources available from Job Hero on topics such as HR, Marketing, Small Business Industry Groups, Blogs, Podcasts and Publications.


Sponsors help to make this Center possible. If you’re interested in sponsoring the Center for Business Innovation, contact Dennis Sullivan at