ESLC honored with Bright Lights Award
CAMBRIDGE — Comptroller Peter Franchot visited the historic Phillips Packing Plant on Monday, July 31, to present the Easton-based Eastern Shore Land Conservancy with the 2017 Bright Lights Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The ceremony was held at the historic packing plant, where the ESLC has undertaken the monumental task of conserving and rehabilitating the last vestige of the Phillips empire in Cambridge.
The “Bright Lights Award” pays tribute to businesses, nonprofit leaders, and organizations that foster innovation in their fields. More specifically, the award recognizes and celebrates innovation in the private and nonprofit sectors that strengthen Maryland’s economy, generate jobs and tax revenue, and
develop new ideas that more effectively deliver services and products within the marketplace.
“The Packing House vision builds around the region’s resource-based industries and entrpreneurial strength in food and farming,” ESLC Director of Conservation Katie Parks-White said. “Just as the Packing House once anchored the world food processing industry, it will again be an anchor for the next generation of food and farmingrelated innovation.
“By clustering together a dense, diverse and lively mix of people, businesses and programs, the Packing House will drive economic development through job creation, education and workforce training.”
Franchot said the project is not a Republican or Democratic project, but a Maryland project, and a common sense, good expenditure of tax credits.
“We have a lot of big companies and wonderful universities, we have all sorts of assets, great hospitals and all of that, but it’s these types of projects that I believe really signal the future of the state,” Franchot said. “I want to particularly thank the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy for having the innovative spirit to pick up this project and move it forward.
“This is a chance to thank the private and not-for-profit sectors for doing something that, frankly, the government can’t do all the time. I think this project will generate jobs and tax revenue, and develop new ideas that effectively deliver services and products to the marketplace.”
ESLC Executive Director Rob Etgen accepted the award of behalf of the organization, and thanked the many partners that continue to work with ESLC on the Phillips Packing project.
“It’s so great to hear all this optimism for Cambridge. We feel it, and it’s so nice to hear you folks feel it at the state, and of course everyone here that lives in Cambridge really gets it,” Etgen said. “We’re honored to be a small part in this project and Cannery Park next door, but we’re especially honored to be recognized for entrepreneurship and innovation here. We don’t think of ourselves from the inside-out that way.
“Another group labelled us ‘edge-walkers’ within the land trust community because we do dirt. We do farms, forests, birds, bees, and things like that, so to be doing projects like this is sort of walking on the edge.”
Mayor of Cambridge Victoria Jackson-Stanley, County Council President Ricky Travers, Senator Addie Eckardt, Secretary of Housing and Community Development Kenneth Holt, and Startup Maryland Director Mike Binko each shared brief remarks congratulating ESLC on the project and the recognition.
“For many decades, the Phillips Packing Company was the lifeblood for generations of Cambridge residents and was interwoven into the city’s rich history and culture,” Franchot said. “When the company left Cambridge in the 1960s, they took with them the energy that helped fuel this city’s economy for so many years and today, thanks to the ESLC’s bold vision, Phillips Factory F will come alive and once again play a vital role in Cambridge’s economy.
“Cambridge is in the midst of a renaissance, and when this project is completed, the warehouse will become, I believe, one of the crown jewels of Cambridge. It will be a hub for innovation and entrepreneurial activity. I believe it will be a foundation for many years to come.”
In it’s heyday, Phillips Packing Company was a sprawling, 60-acre campus. Now only Factory F remains, and the ESLC, along with partners such as Cross Street Partners, Preservation Maryland, the City of Cambridge and Dorchester County, have been working diligently to see the building saved and the surrounding area revitalized.
“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,” Parks-White said. “We’ve really been focused on building economic opportunity around the food and farming industries on the Eastern Shore within this building.”
An adjacent 6.6-acre parcel of land was also acquired as part of the project, and will become Cannery Park. 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.
State and local dignitaries were present to congratulate ESLC on their award. (L-R: ESLC Conservation Director Katie Parks White, City Commissioner Robert Hanson, County Councilman Ricky Travers, ESLC Executive Director Rob Etgen, Comptroller Peter Franchot, Register of Wills Doris Lewis, Secretary of Housing and Community Development Kenneth Holt, Senator Addie Eckardt, Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley, Delegate Johnny Mautz, and Andy Harris representative Denise Lovelady.