Plank takes stake in local 'makerspace'

.@UnderArmour's Kevin Plank gets onboard with local makerspace

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank's private investment firm said Tuesday that it has invested an undisclosed amount in The Foundery Inc., a "makerspace" announced as the first tenant for the manufacturing center Plank is creating inside a former city garage in Port Covington.

The Foundery, which in 2013 started offering access to tools and classes such as welding and woodworking to the public, will occupy about 20,000 square feet at the 101 W. Dickman St. building — about 10 times larger than its current facility on Central Avenue. The move is expected to start in October.

Plank's firm, Sagamore Ventures LLC, said it has taken a stake in the Foundery, in addition to its investment in the equipment and building.

"Given Baltimore's rich manufacturing history, we are incredibly excited to help support and expand a local business like the Foundery," Demian Costa, managing partner of Sagamore Ventures, said in a statement.

Moving to the bigger space in the City Garage building will allow the Foundery to offer a wider range of equipment, extended hours and workforce development training, said executive director Jason Hardebeck, an entrepreneur who sold a small company to Facebook, led the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was named the city's first broadband coordinator in August.

Hardebeck said he also hopes the Foundery will develop relationships with companies looking to access equipment to test out products, scale up production after a successful kickstarter campaign or contract out light assembly work.

Under Armour also plans to locate its "local for local" manufacturing initiative in the 130,000-square-foot City Garage building starting in 2016. The company told investors this month it wants to develop technology that makes manufacturing more efficient, allowing products such as shoes to be made in the same markets that they are sold.

The Foundery does not have a formal or informal relationship with Under Armour, Hardebeck said.

"I would love for that to be someday but there's nothing there," he said.

Sagamore Ventures is a unit of Plank Industries, Plank's private holding company, that is focused on early-stage investments. Plank's real estate unit, Sagamore Development, is developing land Plank acquired in South Baltimore, including the City Garage.

nsherman@baltsun.com

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