Over the past 70 years, Baltimore-based not-for-profit Chimes Inc. has provided services, training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Recently the not-for-profit decided to partner with the city’s vibrant startup community in an innovation that helps create opportunities for the people Chimes serves as well as fledgling businesses throughout central Maryland.
At the Terry Allen Perl Center in the Milford Mill neighborhood, Chimes created a not-for-profit incubator for startups that would in turn employ people with disabilities in exchange for space and other supports that new companies often need.
One company who readily signed up was 800Razors.com, an e-commerce outfit selling personal care products. The partnership offered the new business manpower to take and fulfill orders as well as more workspace to complete those tasks and store inventory. Another early partner was CyberSpa, a PC software solutions provider. The biggest benefit of this innovation was the relationships that Chimes continues to build by integrating our work force with the startups’ employees.
The goal has been for new companies to be with Chimes for about two years before they outgrow the space and make room for a new company.
“Changes in the workplace require innovative approaches for people with complex special needs that choose to work but may not be attractive to more conventional employers. Our incubator will provide a hand up to two groups – small businesses needing a place to get started and people with disabilities that need an entrée to the world of work,” remarked Martin Lampner, Chimes President Emeritus.