Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Media Contact
Amanda Bosland

New Retail Incubator, MWBC Shop Local Powered by The 3rd, Launches in Howard County

Columbia, MD –In a dynamic new partnership, The 3rd, Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA), and the Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC) proudly announce the launch of MWBC Shop Local powered by The 3rd in downtown Columbia, Maryland. The innovative retail incubator is situated within The 3rd’s community co-working space at 10215 Wincopin Circle, Suite 100.

Since its inception in 2019 in Rockville Town Square, MWBC Shop Local has been dedicated to lowering the barriers entrepreneurs frequently encounter. The incubator program equips participants with crucial tools, resources, and support including one-on-one consulting, targeted training sessions, peer-to-peer networking, retail management skill development, and financial support over the course of six months, with two cohorts annually.

MWBC Shop Local’s expansion into Columbia continues to underscore The 3rd, MWBC, and HCEDA’s commitment to inclusivity, diversity and empowerment of women, with the inaugural cohort featuring five women entrepreneurs of color. Additionally, MWBC Shop Local powered by The 3rd will also host interactive, maker-centered, public learning events, allowing the community to engage directly with the artisans.

“I’m thrilled to be able to support this initiative, expanding The 3rd’s impact by partnering with the Maryland Women’s Business Center,” said Delegate Jessica Feldmark. “The Shop Local Retail Incubator Program will help fill a critical gap in traditional economic development efforts which have too often overlooked and under-served Women of Color entrepreneurs.”  

“I am pleased to support the launch of the new Retail Incubator Program that assists minority and women entrepreneurs in Howard County,” said Jennifer Jones, CEO of HCEDA. This initiative works to lower barriers facing underrepresented business owners so they can sustainably launch and grow. Howard County thrives when everyone has the chance to fully participate in building our business community. I look forward to the economic value these incubator participants will create.”

“The 3rd is a place where community, business, and experimentation connect,” said Laura Bacon, CEO for The 3rd. “I’m excited to bring five local WOC entrepreneurs into The 3rd’s space to expand their community, grow their business, and experiment with the ins and outs of running a brick and mortar retail business. I’m honored that they’ve chosen The 3rd as the spot for this crucial learning experience for their businesses.” 

“At MWBC, our mission is to empower underrepresented and women entrepreneurs to launch and grow in Maryland’s Capital Region,” said Danette Nguyen, Managing Director of MWBC. “We are proud to partner with The 3rd and HCEDA to support emerging women entrepreneurs and to continue to promote downtown Columbia as a place where local and diverse businesses can find opportunity.”

MWBC Shop Local powered by The 3rd will open to the public on Saturday, January 20, at 12:30 pm. All are invited to meet the artisans behind the products, take advantage of exclusive deals, and grab limited giveaways.

For more information about MWBC Shop Local, visit, and follow @mwbcshoplocal on Instagram.


Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC) works with women entrepreneurs and small businesses across Maryland’s Capital Region to help them to start, sustain, and grow their businesses. Through workshops, individual counseling, facilitated peer group support, special resources, and access to capital, MWBC annually helps more than 1,500 women gain the skills, connections, and confidence necessary to navigate entrepreneurship.

The 3rd is a 501(c)3 non-profit, co-created community of women of color entrepreneurs. Laura Bacon, Columbia resident, visionary, and CEO, conceived the idea of The 3rd when she noticed a gap in support services for women of color. She envisioned a community where entrepreneurs could connect, receive support, and build and grow businesses. Experience taught her that women of color face unique challenges, and through education, training, and access to additional resources, The 3rd fills a void that has existed for far too long. Members benefit from training through The 3rd University, which offers mentoring, resources, networking, and more. In a world where Women of Color are rising as powerful entrepreneurs, The 3rd empowers them to not just survive but thrive, defying the odds stacked against them. It’s not just solving a problem; it’s lighting a path towards prosperity, resilience, and a brighter future for the DMV community.

Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) The HCEDA is a public-private partnership with a primary goal of promoting economic growth and stability by supporting existing businesses, targeting new businesses and attracting corporate/regional headquarters. The organization also maintains several programs for small, minority and agricultural companies’ unique needs. HCEDA is committed to working tirelessly on behalf of businesses and the residents of Howard County to show why our county is the best place to live, work, shop and conduct business.