By: Cory Kefauver, Associate Editor
After almost three years of renovations to the former Maryland National Guard Armory building in Uptown, Towson University (TU) President Kim Schatzel and TU’s Executive Director of Entrepreneurship, Patrick McQouwn, cut the ribbon at what will now be known as StarTUp at The Armory, Sept. 20.
In 2019, TU began a long term lease at the former Maryland National Guard Armory building with the hopes of it becoming a space for outreach and connection for prospective entrepreneurs at both TU and in the community as a whole. The project is set to become TU’s hub for startup businesses from both TU students and community members alike.
Schatzel said that there has always been an interest for TU to be more involved in the local business and entrepreneurial community.
“As we’ve grown so much over the last ten years, we really had the capacity to be able to catalyze things like this,” Schatzel said. “We wanted to have a center that was for innovation and was for entrepreneurs and business leaders to come and connect.”
According to McQouwn, the building will be an open space for local creators to come and work on their projects and pitches.
Of the 26,000 square feet of space, 6,000 of it will be an entirely open work area, a Starbucks, seven conference rooms for multipurpose use and 15 offices for TU affiliated ventures.
“I always say, ‘Hey look it doesn’t mean it’s a business per se’, venture creation doesn’t necessarily mean business,” McQouwn said. “When Martin Luther tagged up his grievances against the Catholic Church and started reformation, that was venture creation.”
Schatzel, who comes from an entrepreneurial background herself, said that the University wanted a space in Uptown Towson for business engagement.
“We all know that job creation is fueled by entrepreneurial firms in the nation,” Schatzel said. “With the fact that Towson University is a public institution and second largest in the state, it’s our responsibility to be able to support that as well because the whole state and the region prospers from it.”
The Armory location will also be home to TU’s StarTUp Accelerator program. The accelerator is an eight week long fellowship where ventures will be able to take residency in the Armory to accelerate the growth of their idea.
Accepted ventures will receive a $10,000 stipend as well as mentorship from the several cohorts that have set up at The Armory.
Derek Battle, co-founder of Flave and one of the cohorts in the accelerator program, is excited about the opening of the armory and the possibilities it brings to the community.
“We’re also a mentor company in their accelerator and throughout the whole time we were really looking forward to getting people in our space,” Battle said. “Opening this event, I mean our office is right here, we’re here to support the local restaurant community, it’s very accessible.”
Eric Hamrock, Co-Founder of StoCastic expressed hope that the space can spark creativity and learning through the various programs StarTUp will offer.
“I hope it’s a place where more innovation can happen and people can come and kind of have a central place to collaborate and learn from each other,” Shamrock said.
Current TU students and alumni alike are hopeful about what the space will become. TU alumni Deb Tillett, class of 1976, expressed hope for the future that TU is building with the StarTUp program.
“I think it’s wonderful, I’ve seen this building for years and to have a space like this where students can collaborate and come together and be innovative is really amazing,” Tillett said.
TU junior Samuel Alia believes that the StarTUp will be a space for Towson students to make their dreams a reality.
“With the StarTUp program it’s like an incubator but also it’s a coworking space,” Alia said. “Not only will they be able to partner with different organizations and companies, they’ll also be able to get mentorship from entrepreneurships.”
StarTUp at The Armory will be open Monday through Friday from 10-7 and is located at 307 Washington Ave.