In 2013, the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation announced a $1 million gift to the Perdue School of Business at Salisbury University, to establish the Shore Hatchery. The goal of the Shore Hatchery is to reward individuals for their entrepreneurial efforts in the creation and growth of businesses with the potential of positively impacting regional employment within three years. The Shore Hatchery funds up to $200,000 a year available to those applying for grants through the program.

The annual Shore Hatchery Entrepreneurial competition began with individuals in the local community submitting applications. After receiving 45 applications, seventeen were chosen to present ideas to the judges on May 10, 2018, on the Salisbury University campus.

In the months leading up to the event, ESCC’s Workforce Development Services held Entrepreneurial workshops and classes.  Two of ESCC’s students from these classes, Ann Winston Pinder Batchelder and D. Ebony Brown, were chosen to pitch their business ideas at the competition on May 10th.

Ms. Batchelder made it through the 1st round promoting her website “Unplug and Grow”; Ms. Brown finished 7th overall in the competition and was awarded $5,000 in prize money.  Her proposal included improvements and expansion of her current business, Eastern Shore Academy of Cosmetology.  Ms. Brown was required to make a one-minute presentation, Shark Tank style, in the “Gull Cage”, followed by a six-minute question-and-answer session about the proposal. The Gull Cage requires good communication skills, quick thinking and thorough preparation. Ms. Brown was also assigned a mentor who is a member of the Shore Hatchery’s board of directors.

Eastern Shore Community College’s Workforce Development Services offers ongoing classes and programs geared towards starting your own business. The upcoming publication of the twice yearly “Navigator” will include details on new offerings coming in the second half of 2018.  The “Navigator” will be available in hard copy at ESCC and online in digital PDF by mid-summer.