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At Harford incubator, it’s pay as you go

A mobile application to educate teens about drug and alcohol abuse and a self-publishing Internet tool are the first two tenants in a unique Harford County business incubator set to open next week.

Tech startup firms can use a space like this at GroundFloor at Harford for a monthly fee based on the number of employees.

The new kind of workspace called the GroundFloor at Harford is located near Aberdeen Proving Ground and will serve like a “gym membership” for young tech entrepreneurs, said the county’s top economic development official.

“We’re providing all the support services they need: financing, business plans and marketing concepts,” said Jim Richardson, chief of the Harford County Office of Economic Development.

The GroundFloor was developed by Richardson’s office. It will be 2,700 square feet of workstations and traditional workspace at Havre de Grace’s Swan Creek Village Center at 2021 Pulaski Highway. It officially opens on May 15.

Monthly charges to use the space that will be open 24/7 range from $40 to $100 per person.

“We are seeing that these kinds of incubator spaces have been successful in California and New York City,” Richardson said. “The target audience is young IT people — you bring your own laptop.”

Richardson said two companies have already leased space at GroundFloor at Harford: Under 21 and Bzooks. The Under 21 group is developing a mobile app for teens about the perils of drug and alcohol abuse. Bzooks entrepreneurs are working on an online self-publishing software through which users can upload their work, get it copyrighted and push it out to readers on the Internet.

“The average time for them to use the space is about six to nine months,” Richardson said. “After that, our goal is for them to move into a more traditional incubator and have them grow their company and ultimately lease space in the market.”

GroundFloor at Harford will also be the site for an ongoing entrepreneurial lecture series. It will be managed by the Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor and partners that include Betamore, a Federal Hill-based technology and entrepreneurship incubator and [email protected], near the University of Maryland, Baltimore County campus.