Creating space for startups to bring products to fruition
South Boston’s town manager, Tom Raab, was elated when Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. announced in early summer its plan for a Southern Virginia Tech Hub adjacent to its Southern Virginia Innovation Hub.
“That’s big for South Boston and Halifax County,” Raab says. “The locations will have the fastest free Wi-Fi in Southern Virginia.”
The Tech Hub, which will provide makerspace for startups and tech ventures, is the vision of Mid-Atlantic Broadband President and CEO Tad Deriso. After MBC obtains enough equity from investors, the planned $3 million, 13,200-square-foot Tech Hub will be built next to the Innovation Hub, which is scheduled to open in December.
A prime downtown location, the building will be built in a federal Opportunity Zone and State Enterprise Zone, offering federal, state and local tax breaks for investors and various enterprise zone grants and rebates for companies leasing space in the Tech Hub.
“This is a great opportunity for small business development,” says Brian Brown, executive director of the Industrial Development Authority of Halifax County.
The Innovation Hub will serve as the headquarters for Mid-Atlantic Broadband. Microsoft Corp.’s TechSpark Virginia economic development initiative will also have an office in the building. There also will be co-working space for startups, a Microsoft Experience space highlighting Microsoft technologies and a partner event space. Richmond-based nonprofit CodeVA, which promotes computer science education and teacher training, also is a partner and will have a presence in the hub.
Startups at the Innovation Hub entering the maker phase can move directly into the Tech Hub, which is targeted for construction in spring 2021. Spaces in the Tech Hub can be leased on a monthly basis by new ventures that need a small-scale manufacturing space to produce products. The facility also will be available to outside startups.
“We are talking to everyone from Lighthouse Labs in Richmond to startups in North Carolina and Danville,” Deriso says. “It will be another regional hub where entrepreneurs can do what they do best.”
Raab sees the synergy between the SOVA Innovation Hub and the SOVA Tech Hub as a draw for innovative companies. “If you want to have a startup, we will be the place to come,” he says. “We are sitting at the right place at the right time.”