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Gigabit Fiber: A Virtual Incubator & Future-Proofing Westminster

Big cities are most often recognized as hubs for entrepreneurs, but smaller communities can also provide an ecosystem to help startups thrive. Resources available to companies in Westminster, including an innovative incubator model and lightning-fast internet, are setting the stage for Carroll County to emerge as an unconventional, but strategic, location for startups in the mid-Atlantic.

Gigabit Fiber and the Future

In a world where time is money, gigabit fiber is gold. The City of Westminster has the first community-wide gigabit fiber network in the mid-Atlantic region. The network, built by Westminster and powered by Ting through a public-private partnership, increases a user’s capacity. From an economic development perspective, the network provides businesses the bandwidth they need, said Jason Stambaugh, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory (MAGIC).

“We’re very soon going to enter a world where the bandwidth to run applications will exceed what’s available beyond traditional providers,” said Stambaugh. In his words, the gigabit fiber network is “future-proofing” Westminster. Earlier this year, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton even gave Westminster a nod for its future-focused efforts.

A Virtual Incubator

In addition to the gigabit fiber network, MAGIC, a non-profit technology incubator, opened in Westminster earlier this year.  “MAGIC leverages the unique capabilities of the gigabit fiber network to identify, nurture, and support tech entrepreneurs and existing businesses,” said Westminster City Council President Robert Wack.  “Together they are a powerful accelerant for the Carroll technology explosion.”

The virtual incubator is setting out to fuel economic development, create technology jobs, and nurture start-ups in the area. While MAGIC doesn’t provide physical working space, it supports startups in many ways – from connecting them with business opportunities in new markets, to helping them find seed funding.

Switchbridge, a Westminster-based company that helps employers and healthcare plan members better manage their healthcare data, was the first company to sign on with MAGIC. Switchbridge CEO Aaron Davis is excited for where his company is headed and says that the support MAGIC has provided is “unbelievable.” From making key introductions to helping Switchbridge raise money, Davis sees MAGIC as a crucial partner, continuing that it’s been a “no-brainer” to work with them.

Building a Community of Entrepreneurs

MAGIC is focused on developing not just companies, but people too. “Our task as an incubator is not just to incubate companies, but to incubate entrepreneurs,” said Stambaugh.

Ting Makerspace, set to open this fall, provides a space for Westminster community members to come together to think, collaborate, play, tinker, fail, and create. The Makerspace is home to collaborative meeting spaces and tech tools, and will be a hub for technology-based workshops and community events. MAGIC headquarters out of the space as the Makerspace is a resource for MAGIC. Stambaugh says, it helps foster a more entrepreneurial community

Want to see first-hand what’s happening in Westminster? On September 10, downtown Westminster is hosting a Tech Stroll, which will show off technology all over downtown, including robotics and virtual reality.

This post is part of a MDBiz News startup series. Stay tuned with posts and other startup news by following #MDStartUp on Twitter.

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Julie Miller

Julie Miller

3 Comments

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  3. September 15, 2016 at 3:29 pm — Reply

    There is another 110-mile Gigabit Fiber Network currently being installed on the Eastern Shore in Kent County, MD. http://www.ftthcouncil.org/blog/fts-fiber-partners-with-think-big-networks-to-bring-fiber-and-gigabit-broadband-speeds-to-kent-county,-md.

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