A mix of STEM organizations, law firms, creative services companies and other small businesses form the first cohort of an incubator designed to support founders with a new dedicated space in one of downtown Baltimore’s most prominent buildings.
The Light of Baltimore Incubator was launched Tuesday with a press conference at the Transamerica Building, where the national law firm Baker Donelson dedicated part of its Baltimore office — amounting to the whole of the skyscraper’s 23rd floor — to house this new support program.
Per an announcement, the incubator grew out of a conversation between Baker Donelson’s Baltimore office managing shareholder Jennifer Curry and Alicia Wilson, Johns Hopkins University’s VP of economic development and community partnerships (and Curry’s law school classmate), over “how to leverage the investments of their respective institutions” toward Baltimore’s economic development. This call expanded into a partnership between Curry and Wilson’s respective employers, as well as Bloomberg Philanthropies and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program.
The cohort, also called the Johns Hopkins University Office of Economic Development Small Business Cohort, largely consists of one- or few-employee businesses led by people of color and/or women. Members of the cohort will receive free mentorship, leadership, legal and business training, as well as office space in the facility. In addition, they will be enlisted in Baker Donelson’s Women’s Initiative and get to contribute to the law firm’s DEI-related activities.
Despite the focus on Charm City’s business ecosystem (reflected in most of the inaugural cohort being rooted in or around Baltimore), the incubator also extended its reach to companies with offices or other prominent connections to the DC metro area, as well as other parts of Maryland. While the involved entities have yet to announce the remaining three companies in the 30-person first cohort, they did name already selected entities in a guide that Baker Donelson emailed to Technical.ly:
- Orange Element, a branding and marketing firm (Baltimore)
- WATT Business Solutions, a tax services business (Baltimore)
- Klarity Coach, a content and marketing advisory firm (Baltimore)
- Brilliance in Black, which promotes Black-owned businesses via its own directory and merchandise (Baltimore)
- The Taylor Law Firm, a sole proprietor specializing in criminal defense, personal injury and family law (Baltimore)
- Crossword LLC, a boutique communications firm from licensed attorney and consultant Caron Watkins and her husband, the author D. Watkins (Baltimore)
- Onyx Development, a residential development firm (Baltimore)
- George Street Services Inc., a cybersecurity and administrative services provider dedicated to bringing more underrepresented peoples into tech and cyber (Baltimore and Walkersville)
- Sage Wellness Group, which provides strategy-creation services and training on executive leadership, racial equity and trauma-informed care to organizations (Baltimore)
- ElevEn Law Firm, a boutique firm specializing in business and nonprofit law, intellectual property, and estate planning (Baltimore)
- Trident Builders, a commercial real estate general contractor (Halethorpe)
- MFP Management & Construction, a real estate contractor and sub-contractor (Columbia)
- Beck & Call Professional Services, a facilities management and maintenance provider (Laurel and Silver Spring)
- Cre8t1v3, a brand strategy and design agency (Baltimore)
- Diaspora Salon, a hair salon specializing in natural and curly hair (Baltimore)
- Suitable Attire, a nonprofit organization offering professional clothing and etiquette workshops for teenagers (Baltimore)
- The PKWY Agency, a creative agency specializing in multimedia campaigns (Washington DC and Baltimore)
- Led Life LLC, a mental health practice focused on working with executives and leaders (Ellicott City)
- THG Companies, a construction management and contracting firm (Baltimore)
- Project Dekor, a custom event decor business (Baltimore)
- Hebron & Co., an event production and management consultancy (Baltimore)
- B-360, a nationally renowned organization that uses dirt bike culture as an avenue for STEM education and community development (Baltimore)
- The Cunningham Consulting Group, a construction contractor specializing in laboratory facilities development (Laurel)
- E.S.T. 1988 Decor and Events, an event design and management company (Baltimore)
- Superior Real Estate Management & Development, a real estate construction and management company (Baltimore)
- NLD Strategic, a social impact-focused management consultancy (Baltimore)
- Journey to Josiah Inc., aimed at educating and helping people interested in child adoption and fostering (Baltimore)