Harbor Bank plots incubator to support minority startups, entrepreneurs

Harbor Bank plots incubator to support minority startups, entrepreneurs

Harbor Bank of Maryland plans to open a new downtown coworking space to support local African-American entrepreneurs and startups.

The bank is using a vacant floor in its headquarters building at 25 W. Fayette St. for the project that will serve as part-incubator/accelerator and part-community development hub, said Calvin Young, vice president of Harbor Bank’s Community Development Corp. The space will be geared toward helping the firms grow by providing small business advisory services and facilitating investment efforts.

Community advocacy and development groups will also be able to lease space.

Young said the project will help Harbor Bank take its support of minority businesses to the next level.

The minority-owned bank is currently in conversations with architects about building out the co-lab space. The plan is to start building in the spring and open by fall of next year, Young said. The space will initially be financed internally, but Young said the bank is seeking outside investors as well to help support recurring costs and help resident companies grow. The project is still in the planning stage.

Harbor Bank also hosted a pitch event last week through its Community Development Corp., with 15 presenters from local startups and businesses and 10 prospective investors. The event was aimed at bringing together venture capital and minority tech entrepreneurs — namely African-American entrepreneurs — to try and stimulate investment in local businesses, said Joseph Haskins, CEO of Harbor Bank.

“We want to open a door, given our experience and our knowledge and understanding of both the investor community as well as the minority business community, to identify talented entrepreneurs and provide them with opportunities to build their businesses,” he said.

Presenters at the event included Pigeon.ly, a communications platform for incarcerated citizens, and GunBail, a startup aimed at removing guns from the street by allowing arrested offenders to surrender their guns in exchange for bail release. Investors included Abell Foundation, Camden Partners, Early Charm Ventures, Meridian Management Group, Sagamore Ventures, the Maryland Technology Development Corp., Village Capital and Momentum Advisors.


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