Tech Park Incubator breaks ground in Cambridge

MD-Tech Park Incubator breaks ground

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
DCED and a cast of dozens break ground for the new Tech Park Incubator, expected to be completed in December.

CAMBRIDGE — Elected officials and business partners joined members of the Dorchester County Economic Development Department June 10, to participate in the official groundbreaking for the Eastern Shore Innovation Center (ESIC). The ceremony was held at the Tech Park on Bucktown Road.
The ESIC Technology Incubator is the planned anchor tenant of the Dorchester Regional Technology Park. The incubator is hoped to strengthen Dorchester County’s economy by creating the infrastructure environment and network to help entrepreneurs and small business owners start or expand their businesses.

“This is an exciting time, and it feels like a dream coming true because we’ve worked on the project for so long,” said Keasha Haythe, director of DCED. “There’s also a great deal of excitement from our partners who have worked diligently bringing this project to fruition.

“The project should be completed by December of this year,” continued Ms. Haythe. “The building should be up, and hopefully the tenant businesses will be able to move in by the end of this year. Of course the completion depends on the weather.”

Participants included Pastor Pam Bockart of Antioch, Beckwith and Spedden United Methodist Churches in Cambridge, who delivered the invocation, and County Council President Ricky Travers, who provided a welcome address to the crowd on hand.

Other speakers included The Honorable Adelaide (Addie) Eckardt, Maryland state senator; Michael S. Hiner, president of Willow Construction, LLC.; Patricia Larrabee, president of Facility Logix; Michael C. Ross, president of Cambridge Federal, LLC; Lee Simms, CEO of Quevera, LLC.; Alaina Henry, Student Intern at Quevera, LLC.; Dan Franklin, vice chairman of the Mid-Shore Regional Council (MSRC) and Caroline County Commissioner; John Wasilisin, executive vice president and COO of Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO); and Ben H. Wu, deputy secretary of Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Senator Eckardt echoed the thoughts of many in attendance. “This is long overdue,” the senator said. “This is a project we initiated nine or 10 years ago, and we’ve been holding on and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. We are thrilled to see the earth movers over there, and the shovels, so we can get going. We have businesses that want to bloom and grow here, they need this space to incubate. This underlines what the governor has been saying — we are open for business in Maryland. We are willing to work with young companies to help them grow, help them make connections, and that’s what this incubator center is all about.”

“I think this is great,” said Council President Travers. “It’s just another start that says we’re heading in a positive direction, we are moving forward. From the opening of the Tech Park, now this is another seed we’re planting. I guess I would really say we’re setting up a greenhouse to grow our own businesses. And that’s what this is all about — growing our own businesses to bring people here, to invest in and enjoy Dorchester County.”

Dr. Henry Wagner, superintendent of Dorchester Schools voiced excitement that the Incubator ties in with the intention of the Dorchester County Career and Technology Center. “This project aligns beautifully with so many of the Dorchester County Public Schools initiatives, and most especially with our Career and Technology education program. We already have students involved in some of the elements of this project, and the potential for synergy with the economic community is very, very exciting.” Dr. Wagner went on to agree that one of the goals of the Career and Technology Center is to create local talent and keep that talent right here in Dorchester County.

Willow Construction has been selected as the builder of the “Incubator,” a project that has been given a unique yet familiar design by the architectural firm Crosby and Associates.

“We wanted to design something that reflected technology, but we also wanted to do something that was reflective of the Eastern Shore, said Allen Brock, from Crosby and Associates. “Our vision was to make the building look like it belonged in Dorchester County and reflected the maritime heritage, the agricultural heritage and the history of the region. Se we designed a fairly simple building, straightforward. We’re putting an entrance on it where we’re using regional materials like heavy timbers and a screen wall that will be provided by one of the local manufacturers.”

The incubator is designed to attract new startup technology companies to Dorchester County. As the name implies, the facility will incubate starting businesses by allowing new ventures to focus on creating their product or service. The large firms that new companies may be competing with already have large office buildings with conference rooms, administrative assistants and access to expensive things many take for granted like office furniture and copy machines. The incubator provides these business necessities so startup companies can flourish and potentially expand in Dorchester County.

Work is expected to be completed by the end of 2015. According to Ms. Haythe of DCED, the Incubator facility has enough clients waiting to assure 50 percent occupancy upon opening.

County Councilman Don Satterfield summed up the air of excitement at the ceremony.  “This is an extraordinary event for the county and for our future growth, he said. “I think that as we begin to draw businesses in this will mushroom into a much larger thing than it now appears. Hopefully we’ll sell lots in the park because of it, in the Tech Park as well as other areas of the county.”

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

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