Enthusiastic entrepreneurs present their companies and innovative business plans to compete for a cash prize and a year of mentoring support.

Glenda Sierra-Schulz, founder of Xio’s Events, won a $5,000 cash award announced during the Maryland Hispanic Business Conference, an annual event that attracts more than 700 notable business leaders, entrepreneurs, experts, media executives and government officials.

“I’m so grateful to receive the much-needed, influx of cash to grow my company and most importantly to get savvy business advice from leading experts, said Glenda Sierra-Schulz, 2016 Latino Innovators’ Pitch winner and founder of Xio’s Events.

Her company is a one-stop, event-planning enterprise that helps diverse clientele create unique and memorable cultural events from baptisms, first communions, quinceañeras, weddings to retirement ceremonies.

“Our five contestants showcase the important role that our Hispanic-owned firms play in spurring Maryland’s economic development,” said Veronica Cool, CEO, Cool & Associates and founder, Latino Innovators’ Pitch. “I created this competition to provide seed capital, access and mentoring support to propel Latino small business owners to the next level, while showcasing the inherent talent and innovation within the Latino business community.”

A prestigious panel of judges selected the winner: Veronica Cool, CEO, Cool & Associates and founder, Latino Innovators’ Pitch, Hector Gonzalez, director of account management, Planit, Eric Lin, small business coach and trainer, Latino Economic Development Center, Joseph Morales, esquire, The Morales Law Firm and Richard Yoskey, vice president, Bay Bank.

“I was honored to meet the candidates and experience first-hand the perseverance and innovative thinking that characterizes our Latino community,” said Gonzalez “I look forward to collaborating with the Ms. Sierra-Schulz and the rest of the advisory team to help realize her American dream.”

Sierra-Schulz will have access to the judges for mentoring support as well as leading industry experts: Eliza Graham, chief impact office, Shift, Brian LeGette, CEO, ZeroChroma, H. Vanessa Lopez, accountant and treasurer, Alliance for Hispanic Commercial Contractors.

The Latino Innovators’ Pitch competition and cash award are supported by BGE, Saul Ewing, The Morales Law Firm, SHIFT, Bay Bank, Chaney Enterprises, Morgan Stanley, Latino Economic Development Center, Planit and the Small Business Development Centers.