(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
City Garage, the innovation hub in Port Covington, is adding to its mix of companies with tech and venture capital firms.
The Port Covington Development Team said this week that two new companies are moving to City Garage: cellular communications services provider LINQ Services and investment firm CoFactor Ventures. This follows this year’s previous addition of healthcare tech company Olive in City Garage, and the accelerator Conscious Venture Lab at nearby Impact Village.
Both City Garage and Impact Village sit within the wider print of Port Covington’s footprint, a 235-acre site where leaders have ambitious redevelopment plans that include mixing work, live and green space.
“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,” said Scooter Monroe, VP and head of leasing for Weller Development, in a statement. “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.”
City Garage, a former bus garage, was opened in 2016 as an innovation hub. Now it’s home to the startup incubator Betamore and medical device accelerator LaunchPort, as well as companies like produce delivery service Hungry Harvest and AR/VR studio Balti Virtual.
New tenant LINQ Services, a 15-year-old firm, is moving its headquarters from Silo Point, a development in South Baltimore’s Locust Point neighborhood. LINQ will have just under 14,000 square feet of space, which will triple its current Baltimore space. About 35 to 40 employees will move to the space, and it will have room for over 80 team members. That means there is room for social distancing as needed now, and growth later. LINQ is a managed service provider for cell phones, providing companies with customer service, billing and reporting. It has $50 million in annual revenue, and additional offices in Pittsburgh and Las Vegas.
CEO Kevin Lowe said the buildout of the new office will provide a “state of the art” space. The move will put LINQ closer to other tech companies, the number of which only seems poised to grow, as the company is entering on the “ground floor” of the wider Port Covington development project. Along with potentially collaborating with other entrepreneurs, Lowe sees opportunity to pay it forward, as well.
“Being in the tech space and being 15 years into it, I’d like to think that there were a number of established businesses that helped LINQ as we were growing up,” he said. “I think we can lend that kind of expertise to some of the new startups in the space.”
Taking space elsewhere in City Garage will be CoFactor Ventures, a venture firm founded by Bill Karpovich, the longtime entrepreneur who previously led Annapolis-based open source IT management company Zenoss and an early employee of USi. The Opportunity Zone-focused firm invests in tech companies, bringing experience in growing cloud businesses, its website states.
The announcements follow a pair of moves in 2020.
In August, Columbus-based healthcare AI company Olive picked Betamore, the incubator located at City Garage, for the location of its first distributed office. The company is led by Sean Lane, who was a cofounder of Betamore and helped launch the space at its original Federal Hill location in 2012. Olive, which was valued at $1.5 billion after a new funding round in December, is standing up “substations” in cities where it has concentrations of remote employees.
That same month, socially minded accelerator Conscious Venture Lab moved to Impact Village, a space for organizations helping Baltimore that’s located just behind City Garage. Conscious Venture Lab previously had space at Baltimore City Community College, and has since held a cohort of its accelerator in a virtual format.
Port Covington was originally spearheaded by Under Armour founder Kevin Plank. It is now co-owned by Goldman Sachs, and Weller Development heads the transformation efforts. The recent moves are happening as the development team behind Port Covington is also seeking to lease space for new buildings that are under construction at the site that will include business and lab space. In January, the team said it closed on $650 million in new financing for that part of the development. This allowed work to restart after a pause in construction due to the pandemic.
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