CCBC Center for Business Innovation’s Business Plan Competition awards $62,500 in prize money to aspiring entrepreneurs

Feb 18, 2021 | by Lisa Harlow | 443.840.4668 (office) | 443.610.3246 (cell)

Community College of Baltimore County’s Center for Business Innovation hosted its 8th Annual Business Plan Competition Virtual Awards Banquet on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021.

The event featured the top 11 pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs, all of whom are CCBC students or alumni. The winners shared a total of $62,500 in seed money to be used as start-up capital for their fledgling businesses.

Prize money was made possible by the generous support of the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation, which has awarded more than $1 million in grant funding to expand the Center for Business Innovation. In addition to the start-up capital to support entrepreneurs, the grant provides instructional support to develop new courses and workshops to strengthen the business acumen for those interested in starting a new business.

This year’s first-place prize of $20,000 was awarded to Owings Mills resident Talena Coles of Coles Classic Cook & Cakes, an upscale bakery specializing in homemade custom baked goods.

Coles had always enjoyed cooking and baking, but nine years ago after she made a fire truck cake for her grandson’s birthday and started getting requests, she began taking orders for her custom creations. When she lost her job in home health care during the pandemic, Coles wanted to take her business to the next level, so she enrolled in a 12-week small business workshop offered by the Center for Business Innovation.

“I’m used to the trade, but not the business aspect of it all,” said Coles. “I learned all about banking, accounting, marketing and how to create a business plan. Even if I didn’t win, I still received the education that is going to help me grow my business, and for that I am truly grateful.”

With the $20,000, Coles hopes to find a commercial kitchen so she can produce and sell more baked goods, especially her specialty: a “melt in your mouth” Strawberry Crunch Cake.

“If you have a passion you wish to pursue as a business and you want to get educated and excel, CCBC’s Center for Business Innovation is where you need to begin,” said Coles. “My teacher and mentor Leonard Lee has been my lifeline. I know he really believes in me, and I don’t think I would have made it this far without him.”

Other winners included:

Second place ($15,000): Steven Sadler of LaxStraps, a customizable lacrosse and football helmet accessory that allows players to display text and images while playing their sport.

Third place ($10,000): Jacqueline (Rena) Bullard of Events U Love, an event planning service for busy brides.

Fourth place ($7,500): Cheryl Bennett of Just Swim Consulting, LLC, a company that provides online and in-person leadership, professional and personal development training, keynote speaking, and social networking opportunities to individuals and small and medium-sized companies that want to improve their management staff’s leadership skills.

Runner-up ($5,000): Nicholas Plazio of Alpha First-Aid, a first aid and safety company that sells commercial first aid kits to small businesses.

Runner-up ($5,000): Michael Edwards of Conver-Safety Consulting, LLC, an independent safety consulting business focusing on helping small- to medium-sized businesses minimize or eliminate hazards in the workplace.

The CCBC 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, businesses and organizations into sustainable entities. Entrepreneurial-minded students and alumni are mentored by CCBC faculty and local business owners. For more information, visit www.ccbcmd.edu/innovation.

About the Community College of Baltimore County (www.ccbcmd.edu)

Since 1957, CCBC has opened the doors to accessible, affordable, high-quality education empowering generations of area residents to transform their lives and the lives of others. Each year, more than 50,000 students enroll at the college’s main campuses, extension centers and online to make their starts, earn degrees, launch and build careers. CCBC offers the region’s most expansive selection of degree, certificate and workplace certification programs that prepare students for transfer, job entry and career advancement in such industries as business, education, health care, information technology, cybersecurity, construction and transportation. Designated as the “Best Community College” among the Maryland Daily Record’s 2020 Reader Rankings, CCBC is also nationally recognized as a leader in innovative learning strategies and among the nation’s top associate degree producers.

CCBC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, 3624 Market Street, 2nd Floor West, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (267.284.5000). The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Tags: Press, Awards, Events, Small Business, Business, Business Innovation