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The Community Development Network of Maryland held its annual Awards of Excellence luncheon on October 24, 2018 where the Town of Bel Air was chosen as the recipient for its Armory Marketplace project in the Impact Award category. The Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners recognized the Department of Economic Development for the award at the Town Board meeting held on November 5, 2018.
The mission of the Community Development Network of Maryland is to engage and strengthen Maryland’s community development industry and promote comprehensive community development through advocacy, partnerships, and capacity building. The Impact Award is presented to an entity in the State of Maryland for a project that has had a significant impact in the community or on the lives of the people it serves. The project was nominated for the award by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
The completion of construction for Armory Marketplace marks the culmination of transforming the historic Armory Complex from a National Guard facility to a vibrant community center. The project has converted the garages from a long term, vacant building to a business incubator with four suites for new and emerging businesses that have the end goal of moving to a Bel Air storefront in mind. The fifth suite houses Harford Artists’ Association, a non-profit art gallery which serves as a permanent tenant anchoring the north end of the Bel Air Arts and Entertainment District.
Several goals of the Armory Marketplace are job creation, enhancement of a historic property and the creation of incubator spaces to help start-up businesses. Currently, the incubators at Armory Marketplace have 31 part-time and full time employees.