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A few decades ago, Baltimore was home to many high-paying jobs in steel and manufacturing. As those industries began to disappear, the city fell on hard economic times. Things got so bad that Baltimore's crime inspired HBO's series "The Wire" – not exactly material for tourism brochures. But flash forward to the present and the city is noticeably improving. According to a report [PDF] by the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, the city has one of the country's most educated populations. Of the top 25 metro areas, Baltimore currently ranks fourth in percent of residents with a graduate or professional degree and fourth in median household income.

Baltimore was also recently named one of the 10 cities with the greatest concentration of creative workers, including IT and tech workers, in a report by CityLab. The city also recently hosted the Startup Champions Network Summit, an invite-only event that focuses on up-and-coming tech cities in the United States.

The growth of Charm City's tech scene has been fueled by several influencers, including Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, as well as a variety of incubators, accelerators, and co-working spaces, such as those run by Emerging Technology Centers (ETC).

"ETC is actually responsible for Incubate Baltimore, Accelerate Baltimore and Beehive Baltimore," says Deborah Tillett, president and executive director of ETC. Programs like the ETC's help tech entrepreneurs find the support and connections needed to launch a business.

One such entrepreneur is Graham Dodge, CEO and president of Sickweather, an app that uses social media and crowd sourcing to track illness.

"I think that a lot of the talent in Baltimore has gone ignored largely because it's not Silicon Valley or viewed as a top-tier city," says Dodge.

One of the advantages to being a tech entrepreneur in Baltimore? Location, location, location! Baltimore residents have all the amenities of a major city plus easy access to beaches, mountains, and other great East Coast cities (thanks, Amtrak!). 

It's also a lot easier on the wallet than many other similar-sized cities and boasts a strong sense of community within the tech scene.

"It's an affordable, walkable waterfront city, which is what millennials want," says Tillett. "Baltimore has incredible housing stock on an amazing waterfront. You can't find an affordable house on or near the water like you can here."

"We call it 'Smalltimore' because everyone knows each other," says Dodge. "It's like the Kevin Bacon thing – there's six degrees of everyone in Baltimore."

Graham Dodge
Sickweather
CEO and Cofounder

How Graham Dodge Is Helping People Stay Healthier

Graham Dodge is the CEO and co-founder of Sickweather, a Baltimore-based startup that was named among '100 Brilliant Companies' by Entrepreneur Magazine. The company develops real-time maps to forecast human health. Dodge graduated from the Techstars accelerator program and volunteers on boards for the CDC and the Kennedy Krieger Institute.  He lives on a farmette in Baltimore County with his wife and four kids.

Dodge was inspired by a sick day to create Sickweather, an app that tracks the spread of illness the way weather apps track storms.

"Sickweather is like a Doppler radar for sickness. We track illness in real time using social media and crowd sourcing," says Dodge. "I had the idea when I was sick with a stomach virus one day and I just wanted to know if something was going around, or if I had food poisoning. There was no information from my local public health department or the CDC that was helpful. I happened to be on Facebook that day and noticed a friend of mine talking about having the same symptoms. That's when it occurred to me based on my own background in data that social media could be a valid source for tracking illness. We also have our own consumer-facing app that people can report on directly, kind of like a Waze app for sickness, and we have third-party partners that integrate some of our features into their own apps and that data also gets shared with us."

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