The Changing Face of the Federal Hill Community
Long gone are the days when Federal Hill was a decaying inner city neighborhood, where property values were depressingly low, and dilapidated vacant buildings lined many of the run-down streets. Only forty to fifty years ago this was the unfortunate reality, with little hope of change in sight. Today, the scene is vastly different. The streets are bustling and alive, teeming with people and amenities of every kind. New and attractive residential options are drawing increasing numbers of people from near and far, and the area has become a magnet for entrepreneurs and modern businesses.
Following on from the last decade of the 20th century, and into the first decade of the current one, the rebirth of the Inner Harbor and its environs saw tremendous Demographic changes. With the population of the area growing by around 25 per cent, while the overall population of the greater Baltimore area itself was experiencing a decline, it was clear that a new era had dawned, and that the focus was moving downtown.
Bringing Startups to Downtown Baltimore
In 2012, a few intrepid individuals hit on the idea of an institute, which would establish Baltimore as a world-class entrepreneurial center, nurturing startups, in a co-working environment, with educational and support facilities, all under one roof. The world of high tech industries which had changed the scene of modern life world-wide, was now about to make its presence felt in this area. Starting as a for-profit company, the fledgling facility, named Betamore, soon saw that its future potential could be better developed as a non-profit, and after three years, it merged with the Greater Baltimore Council to promote this venture.
With a modern 8,000 square foot Federal Hill campus, providing the finest co-working areas and facilities, Betamore has been home to over a hundred companies and startups. Raising over fifty million dollars in venture capital in three years, it has brought a meaningful boost to the economy of the city, attracting international interest and attention.
A Technological & Entrepreneurial Community
The mission espoused by Betamore was to develop and create a home for an ever increasing number of startups and new ventures, providing the educational facilities and community environment that would nurture them. This was to be not only in the tech field, but in the larger business arena too, serving as wide an entrepreneurial community as possible. The three pillars forming the Betamore ethic, have been pithily formulated as: Incubation – fostering and nurturing startups, Education – providing the necessary courses and knowledge resources, and Community – providing a warm and welcoming framework within which to grow and develop.
The facilities situated at Light Street, include classes and regularly planned events in a variety of fields, with people from around the world attending and accessing them. In less than four years, the campus is already starting to bulge at the seams, with all the desks fully occupied, and dozens of companies using the amenities provided on a daily basis.
Expansion On an Ongoing Basis
Paid membership is available both on a business and on an individual level, and the range of subjects is constantly increasing. It has moved far beyond the original focus on tech areas such as web development, and the newly established Betamore Academy offers a great variety of courses of study, with plans in place well into the future.
The Community Membership
The addition of community membership was another great step forward. The tech community, for example, provides support to tech developers and software programmers, together with the launch of a Tech Night which has been planned for the future. The feedback from the community members in all areas, affords the possibility of introducing new and varied courses and fields of study. The idea is to create an atmosphere that is open and comfortable for all different levels of competency, so the community aspect has become a very important and integral piece of the structure.
Developing Talent Through Leadership
Betamore also offers educational discounts on a variety of business services. The intention being to promote and foster the development of latent talent and provide opportunities for the community members to advance their ideas in as many locally based institutions and industries as possible.
In addition, an advisory board with close to fifty industry leaders has been made available to members, allowing them to draw on the knowledge of senior experts across the whole gamut of business life. This wonderfully varied mix of people forming the larger community has resulted in Betamore drawing people from many different sectors of the commercial sector to the Federal Hill campus.
The Unique Mix That Baltimore Provides
Baltimore, by virtue of the fact that it is a fairly compact city compared to some of the really large world centers, allows people to live and connect much more easily within the community. A recent study shows that while this is rare in most other American cities, a fairly large percentage of people working in the Federal Hill environs actually walk to work on a daily basis. This is probably one of the really big attractions drawing upwardly mobile younger families to the area.
The opportunities provided by creative institutions like the Betamore Campus has changed the business scene in downtown Baltimore. This, together with the close proximity of fine living, such as that provided by the 1201 S. Charles Apartments, has made Federal Hill one of the most desirable area for the modern American city dweller.