CUMBERLAND — Allegany County government and Allegany College of Maryland are partnering to establish a startup incubator and educational center for business development in LaVale.
The county purchased a 30,000-square-foot facility at 37 Lane Ave. in lower LaVale. Located behind Fratelli and beside FedEx, the facility is the former home of the Economy Wholesale Co., a foods distributor.
Officials from the county, ACM and the Maryland Small Business Development Center held a press conference Wednesday morning announcing the establishment of the facility.
“We are thrilled to partner with Allegany County government to establish Western Maryland Works, a makerspace partnership,” Bambara said.
The facility will provide space for entrepreneurs while offering hands-on courses in light manufacturing, technical assistance and robotics.
“The college is excited to work collaboratively to better economic development opportunities and provide the education, job training and career preparation services needed by our residents,” Bambara said.
Brandon Butler, Allegany County administrator, called the Western Maryland Works facility the “largest investment in workforce development in Allegany County history.”
The facility is expected to open sometime in 2019 and will feature Computer Numeric Control machines, 3D printers and other equipment, as well as classroom space and a conference room.
“Nobody west of Frederick is thinking this way,” Butler said. “We have an exciting opportunity here. Our partnership with ACM and the IT Center for Excellence is a great opportunity. We’re connecting people with the in-demand jobs while allowing that entrepreneurial spark to get the next great business in Allegany County started.
“It’s an incubator for great ideas,” Butler said. “We are patterning this after the Foundry in Baltimore that is a makerspace that Kevin Plank and Under Armour started. It’s an opportunity to take what they learned and applying it in Western Maryland.”
Allegany County Commission Creade Brodie Jr. said the project is much needed.
“One of things we are always asked as commissioners is how do we get a small business off the ground,” he said. “This will be one of the first steps. Brandon (Butler) set up a great partnership with everybody. Now, when someone comes up and asks, we got a place to put them and people to help them do it.
“Everyone you’ll need to see from small business to education will be right here. I see this as really growing our county and helping our workforce get training.”
Allegany County Commission President Jake Shade said the space will be a unique asset that other places may not have.
“The high school robotics teams can make use of it for their practices as well,” Shade said. “The facility can help spur the next ideas to expand the county.”
Butler said in-house crews from Allegany County will help make renovations to the facility while the county seeks additional seed money from the Appalachian Regional Commission and through state grants.
“We want to send a clear message to individuals, small businesses and entrepreneurs from across the east coast and beyond that we are available and prepared to support your future business creation and expansion,” said Bambara.
“People can come in here with an idea they have and turn it into a reality,” said Butler. “It’s a simple concept.”
Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.