Startup Mary­land vis­its Cam­bridge on an­nual tour

Dorchester Star - - Front Page - By VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­pub.com

CAM­BRIDGE — The Startup Mary­land bus made a tour stop in Cam­bridge on Thurs­day, Sept. 15, to cel­e­brate the restora­tion project in the works at the for­mer Phillips Packing Com­pany and lo­cal “Where are they now?” sto­ries fea­tur­ing the folks be­hind RAR

Brew­ing and Hoop­ers Is­land Oys­ter Aqua­cul­ture.

The first stop of the day brought the bus to Phillips Can­ning Fac­tory F to hear about the adap­tive re­use project planned for the site from rep­re­sen­ta­tives with the Eastern Shore Land Con­ser­vancy, Cross Street Part­ners, the City of Cam­bridge and Dorch­ester County.

“We’re view­ing this project as an op­por­tu­nity to cat­alyze, or lever­age for com­pre­hen­sive re­vi­tal­iza­tion, for the area re­ferred to as the “packing district,” which in­cludes the park, the build­ing, and the fac­tory hous­ing that was con­structed by the Phillips com­pany in the 1900s, and the greater area around it,” said ESLC Cen­ter for Towns Di­rec­tor Katie Parks. “We’ve re­ally been fo­cused on build­ing eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity around the food and farm­ing in­dus­tries on the Eastern Shore within this build­ing.”

Parks ex­plained how ESLC, the City of Cam­bridge, Dorch­ester County, and the State of Mary­land have part­nered to ac­quire the 6.6 acre par­cel of land ad­ja­cent to the build­ing which will be­come Can­nery Park, in ad­di­tion to the project planned for the build­ing it­self.

“We are so ex­cited about this project,” said ESLC Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Rob Et­gen. “I just can’t say how im­por­tant we feel it is to the fu­ture of Cam­bridge and the Eastern Shore. The his­tory of this build­ing and what it meant to the re­gion for so very long, we see that po­ten­tial on the hori­zon.”

A few of the uses planned for the build­ing once re­stored in­clude event space, a kitchen and food busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor, shared use of­fice space, and a mar­ket.

“You look at Cam­bridge, you look at this fall­ing down old build­ing, a ves­tige of the econ­omy of the past here,” said Bill Struever, mas­ter plan­ner at Cross Street Part­ners. “Can we build off the unique na­ture of the Eastern Shore with amaz­ing farm­land and food en­trepreneurs and cre­ate our own sense of place?”

Struever said clos­ing on the prop­erty should hap­pen in the first half of 2017 and all par­ties in­volved hope to have the project up and rolling soon af­ter.

“The great op­por­tu­nity of these in­no­va­tion places is once they get big enough with enough mo­men­tum, there’s tons of folks that want to be around them,” said Struever.

Preser­va­tion Mary­land Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Ni­cholas Red­ding spoke to the tax credit pro­grams used for projects such as this, and how in­vest­ment in his­toric preser­va­tion adds value and cre­ates jobs for the com­mu­nity.

“The say­ing in the his­toric preser­va­tion com­mu­nity is, ‘Some­times new ideas need old build­ings.’ The way that you rein­vest in a com­mu­nity like Cam­bridge is by build­ing on what is al­ready here,” said Red­ding. “This is the smartest kind of ap­proach. This build­ing not only had value in the past but it also has value in the fu­ture. We’re pretty ex­cited about it.”

Dorch­ester County Tourism Di­rec­tor Amanda Fen­ster­maker and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Busi­ness Man­ager Su­san Banks spoke to the eco­nomic pros­per­ity once sym­bol­ized by the Phillips Packing Com­pany, and the per­sonal con­nec­tion felt by the com­mu­nity to such a rich par t of the city’s his­tory.

City of Cam­bridge Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­ate Di­rec­tor Bran­don Hes­son said that this project is an easy thing for the city to get be­hind.

“Ul­ti­mately, the reach is a lot big­ger be­cause it con­nects that en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit to wild and crazy ideas,” said Hes­son. “It’s a big, prom­i­nent icon for wild and crazy ideas, and mak­ing them work here in Cam­bridge, but con­nect­ing to some­thing that this build­ing served in the past. The fab­ric of our com­mu­nity isn’t that much dif­fer­ent.”

“This is a great story to tell as well. When we find a com­mu­nity get­ting to­gether and work­ing to­gether across ge­og­ra­phy, ide­ol­ogy, pol­i­tics, it’s in­spir­ing,” said Startup Mary­land CEO Mike Binko. “It doesn’t hap­pen ev­ery­where. We couldn’t be more proud to see what we’re see­ing here. Hope­fully, we’ll be a part of it as it un­folds, and we would like Cam­bridge and this fa­cil­ity to be the ‘Where are they now?’ story a year or two from now.”

Fol­low­ing the stop at the Phillips Packing Com­pany, the Startup Mary­land crew vis­ited the new Eastern Shore In­no­va­tion Cen­ter and RAR Brew­ing.

A screen­ing of Startup Mary­land’s doc­u­men­tary STRT1UP Road Show, fea­tur­ing a be­hind-the-scenes look at the an­nual statewide tour, was held at RAR Brew­ing.

RAR Brew­ing and Hoop­ers Is­land Oys­ter Aqua­cul­ture are alumni of the Pitch Across Mary­land tour. They have since be­come spon­sors of the tour along with or­ga­ni­za­tions such as the Mary­land Depart­ment of Com­merce, Tedco, Kloud­track, Daasn and many more.

“We be­lieve en­trepreneur­ship is a path to solv­ing a lot of prob­lems that can go un­ad­dressed by pol­i­tics or pol­icy,” said Binko. “We can bring the sheer will of the en­tre­pre­neur­ial com­mu­nity to work and make it hap­pen and cel­e­brate it as it’s happening.”

Pitch Across Mary­land of­fers en­trepreneurs and in­no­va­tors an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a video pitch that will be seen by in­vestors and other play­ers that could help them make their idea a re­al­ity. In ad­di­tion to the video pitch pro­gram, Startup Mary­land has sev­eral other pro­grams, such as a boot­camp, to educate and en­cour­age en­trepreneurs in their ven­tures.

Startup Mary­land is a branch of Startup Amer­ica, the only one to have a statewide bus tour, and ranks in the Top 5 for num­ber of star­tups per capita.

PHOTO BY VIC­TO­RIA WIN­GATE

Bill Struever with Cross Street Part­ners spoke about the vi­sion for the project and pre­sented dis­plays of con­cept art to Startup Mary­land CEO Mike Binko.

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