The Dorchester County Economic Development Office recently hosted the groundbreaking ceremony for the Eastern Shore Innovation Center, the Eastern Shore’s first purpose-built incubator. The purpose of the Eastern Shore Innovation Center is to spur sustainable economic vitality in the region through high-growth entrepreneurship and innovative practices in the business community. Start-up businesses entering the incubator will have the opportunity to grow and take advantage of business resources until they graduate out after two years. Elected officials, business owners, and community members joined together to celebrate the event.
The ceremony began with Dorchester County Economic Development Director Keasha Haythe welcoming attendees. “I want to thank each of you for the commitment to come together to create a stronger and more prosperous community,” said Haythe. The morning was a much-anticipated gathering for financial partners who have worked together for years to make the day a reality.
The invocation was provided by Pastor Pam Bockart of Antioch, Beckwith, and Spedden United Methodist Churches in Cambridge, Maryland. Dorchester County Council President Ricky Travers welcomed guests and shared his excitement by noting that we will grow our own businesses in the incubator. Senator Addie Eckardt recognized the elected officials and stated she had been a supporter of the incubator since she served as a state delegate.
Mike Hiner, president of Willow Construction, said he was glad that Willow Construction is part of the incubator team and looks forward to seeing the completed project. Facility Logix President Pat Larrabee, owner’s representative for the project, said she has been a champion for the project since the feasibility study was completed in 2007. Mike Ross, president of Cambridge Federal, LLC. and future incubator tenant, thanked the Dorchester County Council and Haythe for leading the project and noted the future looks bright. Lee Simms, CEO of Quevera and proposed tenant of the incubator, said he has seen good things come out of incubators and how special Dorchester County has always been to him.
Aliana Henry, a recent graduate of North Dorchester High School and intern at Quevera, spoke about the new job opportunities in the technology field that the incubator will fill for her generation. Dan Franklin, vice-chairman of the Mid-Shore Regional Council (MSRC) and Caroline County Commissioner, said the incubator will be connected to the latest technology and fiber-optics communications.
Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) CEO John Wasilisin said, “We have been a believer in this project from day one.” The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) provided $1.2 million dollars in funding and TEDCO provided $1 million for the project.
DBED Deputy Secretary Ben Wu said, “Maryland already boasts an incubator network that is one of the strongest in the country with a growing membership of 30 incubators and accelerators throughout the state. With this incubator, the Eastern Shore will be tapping into a statewide network of entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic collaboration.”
Through several partnerships with the Dorchester County Economic Development Office, the Eastern Shore Innovation Center has come to fruition and will offer students, entrepreneurs, and the community members a place for innovation. Haythe added, “The Eastern Shore Innovation Center will be a facility that will spark creativity, collaboration, community, and create new opportunities and a prosperous future for economic development.”
The Eastern Shore Innovation Center is planned to open in January 2016 and will be the first building in the Dorchester Regional Technology Park. The 13,500-square-foot building will feature flex space for several businesses. Dorchester County is accepting applications for a part-time Incubator Manager for the Eastern Shore Innovation Center. The position is responsible for developing, implementing, and managing the business incubator.
To learn more about the Eastern Shore Innovation Center and the business opportunities that exist, please call the Dorchester County Economic Development Office at 410.228.0155.