Sponsored Post by Spark:
When Americans think of business and startups, they tend think of tech hubs—ones who facilitate and incubate new ideas and growth—San Francisco, Seattle, New York. One city that probably won’t be mentioned? Baltimore.
People may think of the city’s darker elements like the The Wire and the podcast Serial, but that doesn’t mean there’s a problem with Charm City’s business—there’s just a perception of one. In reality, Baltimore is secretly the hottest place to start your new company.
As investors begin to take the city more seriously ($137 million was invested in 19 deals in the second quarter of 2015), many businesses, including tech startups, are choosing to base their operations close to this thriving entrepreneurial scene. This had led Baltimore to rank 9th overall among tech hubs, in large part due to the founding of Emerging Technology Centers. For 15 years, this business incubator and accelerator has aided more than 350 companies that have attracted $1.6 billion in investments. After kickstarting the scene, Baltimore (and Maryland) startups have seen noticeable traction.
This has translated into more and more services and spaces available for these new businesses to thrive in. Co-working spaces like Spark, a collaborative workspace at Power Plant Live!, allow new businesses to save money on affordable rent. They also have access to stellar facilities and a revitalized district of Baltimore where they can wine and dine investors and clients, as well as relax after a long day (or night). Another bonus? Spark isn’t just for startups. With a focus on collaboration and shared work spaces, this modern spot isn’t an incubator—it’s a place where any business can excel.
The co-working spaces in Baltimore are attractive options for new and old businesses alike. Working side-by-side in the same building, many entrepreneurs seek connections with established Baltimore businesses. It’s a built-in networking opportunity that affirms Baltimore’s intimate, yet growing, startup culture. Moreover, with the proximity of Baltimore to government hubs and cities like DC, Philly and New York City, new businesses can extend their networking to these cities to fast-track growth. Businesses moving to the region are also taken by Baltimore’s friendly networking opportunities. Maryland’s TEDCO program—a state-backed, independently run organization that provides mentoring and direct funding to local entrepreneurs—connects successful and experienced entrepreneurs to mentor fledgling startups in Baltimore business.
More signs of life in Baltimore’s business scene actually come from its talent pool. Baltimore is home to a high concentration of universities in the US, with a pipeline for new businesses to attract new and emerging talent from the likes of Johns Hopkins University, Towson University and D.C. school graduates. Forbes ranks the Baltimore-Columbia-Towson area as the sixth smartest city in America, with over a third of the population being college-educated. Baltimore’s cost of living is considerably less than tech giant cities like San Francisco and New York, making it a viable alternative to America’s other tech scenes. The region even ranks No. 8 on a list of metropolitan areas with the highest percentage of jobs requiring high-level knowledge in STEM.
Baltimore’s lively co-working and intimate tech scene is only the beginning for Baltimore’s burgeoning renaissance. As more businesses set up shop in co-working spaces, like Spark, the more Americans and the rest of the world will see Baltimore in a new light.