Yesterday's twin groundbreakings in downtown Pikesville are proof that all groundbreakings are not created equal.
Let's start off with the similarities: Both ceremonies were held within the "urban village" of Baltimore County's Pikesville Revitalization District—the walkable part of downtown Pikesville from Old Court Road south to Slade Ave., where the county has set guidelines for the appearance of buildings.
And the ceremonies were led by Sherrie Becker, executive director for the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Councilwoman Vicki Almond. Elected state officials also attended.
But at each groundbreaking site there was a different vibe, because of the site itself, and maybe because of the corporate cultures.
The ceremony at the Walgreens site was held in the parking lot at Reisterstown and Old Court roads, and featured three large advertising banners affixed to a partially demolished wall.
The large banners served as the backdrop for the ceremony, and "Walgreens"-emblazoned water bottles and first-aid kits were set out as souvenirs.
Walgreens District Manager Andrew Militello spoke at the event. "I want to thank everybody who is here to celebrate with us and anybody who has had any part, small or large, in making Walgreens dream to be here in Pikesville a reality. ... Walgreens is really excited to embrace the Pikesville community as we have in so many other areas in Baltimore. ... "
Apparently the nation's largest drugstore chain, with 7,714 stores, doesn't consider Quarry Lake (where there's already a Walgreens) as part of Pikesville.
Nonetheless, Walgreens has been active in the Pikesville community.
During the event, chamber Executive Director Sherrie Becker pointed out that Walgreens is a sponsor of the chamber's Miles that Matter Pikesville 5K Run/Walk set for 8 a.m. on July 10.
Kamenetz was quick to invite Walgreens to be a member of the chamber. "We look forward to you joining us," Kamenetz said. "We have the president and vice president of the chamber here, and they are ready to take your application and your check," he said lightheartedly.
After the ceremony, bottled water was the refreshment, and there was an obligatory mound of dirt set on the sidewalk for the actual groundbreaking. It was placed there out of necessity as there's simply no grass or dirt near the building.
After a brief walk west on Old Court Road, the chamber leaders and elected officials arrived at the construction site for insurance adjusters Goodman Gable Gould/Adjusters International.
There, attendees—including about 30 of the company's staff members—were greeted by a lawn tent set out under a grove of trees. Underneath was a sheet cake and other refreshments. "Ooh," was the reaction as people approached.
The backdrop for the ceremony was a grassy hill leading up to Sunrise of Pikesville on the right, and to the left, a large hole where construction was ongoing.
"A lot of our corporate culture is tied into food," said Neil Kahn, chief financial officer and general counsel for Goodman Gable Gould, inviting the crowd to stay and enjoy. "We do nothing unless there is food."
I didn't stay because journalists don't partake of free food or gifts, but it was refreshing to see a corporation put extra effort into welcoming itself to a new location within the community.
Currently, Goodman Gable Gould, founded in Pikesville in 1971, is located off of Hooks Lane. It also has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Melbourne, FL; Atlanta; Fair Haven, NJ; New York City; Charlotte, NC; Nashville; and Richmond and Norfolk, VA. Its largest office is in Rockville, MD.
The new, $2 million, single-story, 7,000-square-foot office building at 3903 Naylors Lane could be completed as early as the end of this year. It marks the first time the Pikesville office will own the building it occupies.
Twenty-five employees will work there.
Present at both ceremonies were delegates Dan Morhaim, Dana Stein and Jon Cardin; and Theresa White from Sen. Bobby Zirkin's office.
Editor's Note: White's first name was misspelled in the original version of this article. We regret the error.