From the moment City Garage – a 134,000-square-foot former bus depot – opened in 2015 as a new Baltimore hub for entrepreneurs and innovation of all kinds, project developers have left no question about its intention.
“Our goal from the outset has been to create a thriving ecosystem of entrepreneurs and venture capital in Port Covington – to make connections, catalyze growth and create new opportunities in Baltimore City,” Scooter Monroe, vice president at Weller Development Company, told the Baltimore Sun.
Today, City Garage is one foundational part of the emerging Port Covington neighborhood, a 235-acre, $5.5 billion project on the Patapsco River. The mixed-use development will include housing, offices, shops, restaurants, hotels, green space and more, with a purposeful focus on innovation and the knowledge economy.
The mission of City Garage is to build a community focused on creating new products and collaboration, while fostering workforce development and entrepreneurship in Baltimore City. The mix of tenants within City Garage – a bustling scrum of energy and talent – is part of the draw.
- Betamore, an incubator, co-working space and tech hub, is an anchor and home to a range of entrepreneurial ventures. It moved from 8,000 square feet of prime real estate in South Baltimore’s Federal Hill to occupy a central spot in City Garage, where it offers flexible and permanent spaces to several startups.
- The LaunchPort is a manufacturing accelerator that works with start-ups focused on medical and emerging technologies.
- UnderArmour’s Lighthouse provides another anchor, with a 60,000-square-foot manufacturing innovation center where technicians in white lab coats design and test new technologies.
- And current companies include BaltiVirtual, Olive AI, LINQ, and Weller Development Company, the real estate firm managing Port Covington’s growth.
Proof of concept
Within its first few years, City Garage demonstrated its value to a host of companies whose early steps included growing and learning in the space. Included in the companies that found their foothold here:
- Magma Build Studios creates art and furniture from glass, metal, wood and other materials. Increasing demand for its work prompted the company’s 2017 move from City Garage to a larger space in Baltimore’s Station North neighborhood – just a block away from the popular Open Works maker space, where it bolsters the community of artists and craftsmen.
- Workbench, an educational technology startup founded in 2013 and based at City Garage was providing lessons to 10,000 schools globally when it was acquired by Google in 2018 – the internet giant’s second-ever ed-tech acquisition.
- Galen Robotics was the first graduate of The LaunchPort at City Garage. Galen, built around a technology created in a Johns Hopkins lab, was based in Silicon Valley until 2019. It inched its way into Baltimore – first taking space at the university’s FastForward accelerator and then at The LaunchPort before moving its headquarters to a federally designated Opportunity Zone less than two miles away, with support from a Maryland-based venture capital fund.
The dynamic mix of companies making their homes in Baltimore – and particularly within Port Covington – is exactly the point.
“This region has a talent pool that can compete on a national level, and Port Covington is designed to help companies attract talent and grow,” Monroe said.