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Hampden : Innovation + Job News

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New film to feature Taharka Bros. Ice Cream food truck launch

Baltimore’s Taharka Bros. Ice Cream is launching a Kickstarter campaign June 12 to raise $35,000 for their new “Vehicle for Change” food truck. And a new movie by Oscar-nominated directors will document their effort in a new, yet-to-be named movie that highlights businesses that support social change.
 
“We don’t have a retail shop and a lot of people ask us to have a retail shop or ask how to get our ice cream,” Taharka CEO De'Von Brown says. “So this is a way for us to reach our audience, to have something that’s out in the community.”
 
Taharka Bros. serve up more than just the typical cookies and cream ice cream flavors. They serve what they call “food for thought,” flavors based on social movements. Their goal is to spread the message of inspiring movements and people in history through ice cream, such as a flavor named after Langston Hughes’ poem, “A Dream Deferred.”
 
Taharka has had a presence at festivals such as the Baltimore Book Festival and Artscape. They have also held events at their factory in Hampden, Baltimore and their products are available at over 65 restaurants in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. But a food truck will allow it to make appearances at more festivals, corporate events and colleges.
 
“Hopefully the food truck will be a way to reach people in terms of a physical one-to-one type of outreach. It’s a community outreach vehicle,” Taharka Creative Director Darius Wilmore says.
 
Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, who directed “Detropia” and “The Boys of Baraka,” have just wrapped up filming of a yet-to-be named movie on Taharka’s Kickstarter campaign. The movie will be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival next spring. The movie will also document Taharka’s collaboration with actress and comedienne Rain Pryor to craft a flavor named after her late father Richard Pryor, whose comedy often addressed class and race. The flavor is tentatively being titled “A Richard Pryor Moment.”

Writer: Daryl Hale
Sources: De'Von Brown and Darius Wilmore, Taharka Bros. 

Interactive marketing firm idfive relocates to larger office in Hampden

Interactive marketing and design agency idfive LLC moved its office from downtown to Hampden’s Meadowmill complex this year to accommodate its growing staff.
 
The company will hire four people by the end of the year, in sales, business development and design, and hired three shortly after the move. The company currently employs 16.
 
Andres Zapata, executive vice president of strategy, says idfive left a 3,200-square-foot office on East Redwood Street for a 3,700-square foot office at 3600 Clipper Mill Road. The company has use of a common conference room and facilities.
 
“We were out of space” downtown, he says. “It doesn’t sound like that much difference in square feet but the way the [Meadowmill] office is configured, we have more work space.”
 
The location offers free parking and is close to the Woodberry Light Rail, Zapata says. Zapata says idfive is making the office more eco-friendly by installing two large skylights in the roof. The skylights will bring in more natural light and reduce energy consumption.
 
Founded in 2005, idfive provides web design, social media and traditional advertising with a focus on higher educational institutions and nonprofits. Revenue was in the $5 million to $10 million range last year.
 
Last month, idfive published a book on higher education marketing. The book can be downloaded free through May. “University X: How to Rescue a College Brand from Bland” was written by Zapata, chief creative officer Sean Carton and marketing director Peter Meacham, and edited by creative director Matt McDermott.
 
After May, the book will be sold via Amazon and Google Play, with paperbacks and an iBook coming out as well. The paperback will be priced at $14.95; the digital versions, $6.99.
 
Source: Andres Zapata, idfive LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash

New Hampden marketing company seeking education industry clients

Recently formed marketing company Kalix Communications LLC is going after independent schools, education and corporate clients.
 
The company has already landed two clients in the educational field. One is Notre Dame Preparatory School, a Catholic middle-high school in Towson, for which Kalix created a social media marketing campaign. It also bought radio ads and conducted market research on behalf of the school.
 
Kalix is also working with two divisions at Towson University. It conducted social media training for Towson’s Center for Professional Study’s clients, and formulated a social media strategy for Towson’s Division of Innovation and Applied Research.
 
Kalix partner and president Jonathan Oleisky formerly headed Media 924, a social media consulting firm. Ruth Eve, Kalix partner and executive vice president, was formerly vice president at Green and Associates, a media buying agency.
 
“Baltimore has many strong marketing agencies. Our challenge is how we differentiate ourselves,” says Oleisky.
 
He says Kalix has chosen to do so by subcontracting with 12 “strategic partners,” senior-level executives who are assigned to teams depending on clients’ requests, and by having a flexible fee structure, from retainer to project-based.
 
Oleisky says Kalix focuses on brand development, creative direction, social media strategy and implementation, media buying and planning and public relations. Besides the two educational institutions, Kalix’s clients include Consolidated Insurance Center, Prezmed and My Directive.
 
The privately financed Kalix launched its website this week. Oleisky projects first year sales of $500,000 to $750,000 and, based on that projection, expects to hire two to three staffers in project management and account services later this year.
 
Source: Jonathan Oleisky, Kalix Communications LLC
Writer: Barbara Pash
 

Woodberry Kitchen Owners to Open Cafe in Hampden

Woodberry Kitchen’s Spike and Amy Gjerde will open a coffee shop at Hampden’s Union Mill this spring.

The 1,500-square-foot café will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Also still in the works is Half Acre, a fast-casual eatery that the Gjerdes will open at 3801 Falls Rd. in the middle of this year. The 75-seat restaurant will serve lunch and dinner.

The café will be under construction next month and open in March or April, says Michael Morris, the real estate manager for the Gjerdes’ restaurant ownership group behind Woodberry Kitchen, Artifact and Half Acre.

One of the area’s first farm-to-table restaurants, Woodberry Kitchen is one of the Baltimore area’s most popular restaurants. It earned the accolade of Bon Appetit magazine, which named it one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants in America in its September 2009 issue.

Writer: Julekha Dash
Sources: Spike Gjerde, Woodberry Kitchen; Michael Morris, real estate manager

Bit BY Bit Combines Business With Altruism

Computer training firm Bit BY Bit has grown from from one entrepreneur's idea to a thriving company in downtown Hampden. Founder Kimberly Branch is using her company's success as an opportunity to give back to the community by providing computers to disadvantaged families in Baltimore.

"In providing training, I realized that a lot of people don't have computers in the home. How can they retain what they are learning or even keep pace with the rest of society with out access to technology?" Brand says.

"I ask clients, friends, family, anyone that I can think of for donations. I take the donations and refurbish them. Then I donate them to my students who need computers."

Branch's desire to use her company to help those in need was inspired by her own experiences. While receiving public assistance in the 1990's, Branch participated in a program offered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development that encouraged residents of public housing to take entrepreneurship and business training classes offered by The Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore. Her experiences in the program encouraged her to both open her business and give back to the community.

"I started working with Housing clients and others who are considered to be a part of the 'economically disadvantaged' population, [and] I realized that people needed to see a real person who had come from where they are. A person who had a desire to make a change and despite the 'Nay Sayers' to take steps to do so," she says.

Bit BY Bit is continuing to grow with the changing technology market. The company is increasing its network and database security programs to meet increased demand for those services.


Writer: Amy McNeal
Source: Kimberly Branch, Bit BY Bit Computer Training

Baltimore's vital signs looking good says report

A new statistical analysis of Baltimore shows that the city has made important improvements in areas central to the city's improvement, including crime, housing, and education prior to the recession. Other social conditions, such as the number of teen births and the number of children with elevated levels of blood lead, have also improved according to the latest "Vital Signs" report by the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute. However, the report shows that while there have been significant improvements in a variety of economic and social indicators in Baltimore, not all neighborhoods within the city have benefited equally.

Available on the BNIA-JFI's new website, analyzes data from nearly 80 indicators provided at the Community Statistical Area level. CSAs, created by the Baltimore City Department of Planning, are clusters of neighborhoods organized around Census Tract boundaries, which are consistent statistical boundaries. Neighborhood borders don't always fall neatly into CSAs, but CSAs represent conditions occurring within the particular neighborhoods that comprise a CSA.

"This latest edition of 'Vital Signs' will help us access how our neighborhoods are doing and what we can do to help improve outcomes," says Janice Hamilton Outtz, senior associate for Civic Site and Initiatives at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. "I am excited about the new report."

The 8th edition of "Vital Signs reveals the following important trends currently impacting the city:

  • The city's population declined by 3 percent, from 651,154 in 2000, to 631,815 in 2008. While a handful of neighborhoods lost population, several more, including downtown (22 percent), Loch Raven (8.4 percent) and Northwood (9.9 percent), experienced a growth in population.
  • Median sales prices for homes in the city increased by well over 100 percent in the past eight years, although the pace of that increase has slowed considerably since the start of the recession.
  • Both adult and juvenile crime has decreased in Baltimore City. In particular, Baltimore City's Part 1 crime rate has declined from 106.0 incidents per 1,000 people in 2000 to 78.3 incidents per 1,000 per people in 2008.
  • The number of residential properties receiving rehabilitation investment is climbing, and may be continuing as the recession lingers and more homeowners choose to stay in their current home.
  • Baltimore's high school completion rate is on the rise, while its rate of truancy in elementary, middle school and high school (including students who drop out of high school) is in decline.
  • The teen birth rate dropped from 83.3 teens out of 1,000 in 2000 to 66.1 teens per 1,000 in 2008a decline of 17.2 percent.

Other measurements, such as the larger number of Baltimore residents visiting local emergency rooms for non-emergency diagnoses and treatment, expose a city that continues to be constrained by larger trends such as rising health care costs and a lack of adequate medical insurance.

"While Baltimore City has made significant improvements in areas such as crime and education, we appear to be hampered by many of the same things that have struck other urban areas in this recession," says Matthew Kachura, program manager for BNIA-JFI at UB. "But we also are seeing some resilience, such as the increase in home prices, median household income, and an impressive number of small businesses based in well-established city neighborhoods like Edmonson Village and Greenmount East, and by the growing number of city residents who claim at least some higher education in their backgrounds."

BNIA-JFI began in 1998 as a partnership between the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers. In 2006, BNIA joined with the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute in an expansion of its capabilities. BNIA-JFI has strengthened the "Vital Signs" report and provided additional services and resources for those who seek data, information, and analysis about the city.

BNIA-JFI's latest product is a new Web site, www.bniajfi.org, which provides a wide variety of data, maps, and information for the City of Baltimore and its neighborhoods. Anyone interested in how Baltimore measures up can find easy-to-use statistical analyses, maps, reports and links relevant to the city.

This information is reflected in the latest "Vital Signs" report. For example, Edmonson Village reports the city's highest percentage of successful small businesses (69.2 percent), while a total of 50.9 percent of all city residents reported some type of college attendance as of 2008.

"These trends of educational attainment, lower crime and rising housing prices may not lead to a total revitalization for the city," Kachura said, "but show that many neighborhoods are improving and these improvements paint both a better and a realistic picture of Baltimore. The larger question is whether these trends can be maintained and translated into long-term improvements for Baltimore and its neighborhoods. For the most part, though, they are good news for the city."

Source: Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance-Jacob France Institute at the University of Baltimore
Writer: Walaika Haskins


Hair Cuttery pegs Hampden firm for social marketing makeover

In an effort to bump up its profile, Hair Cuttery, the national salon chain, pegged Baltimore-based Vision Multimedia Technologies (VMT) to create several digital communications projects, including a Web site redesign, social marketing strategy development, pay per click advertising, search engine marketing, electronic lead capture and comprehensive reporting and analysis.

"Our proprietary technical solution really appealed to the Hair Cuttery team as they try to leverage the social networks of their fans, friends and followers. The reports that we will be able to generate will provide meaningful data in real time and that is truly valuable marketing return on investment information," says Brian Razzaque, president and chief technology officer of VMT, based in Hampden.

The using an open source content management system, DotCMS, VMT will bring social media functionality such as blogging and electronic newsletters to the revamped Hair Cutter Web site. The site is scheduled to launch in fall 2009.

In addition, the company will train Hair Cutter stylists on ways to engage and react to various social media outlets and how to promote their services online. VMT's proprietary software application will give Hair Cutter execs the power to track sales leads and results spawned by the stylists interactions on social networks.


Writer: Walaika Haskins
Source: Brian Razzaque, Vision Multimedia Technologies

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