Story courtesy of MassLive
DevelopSpringfield will transform two neighboring vacant Bridge Street buildings into the Springfield Innovation Center, a nursery and proving ground for the next generation of Springfield start-up companies.
The center would combine the Valley Venture Mentors cooperative work-space and advising programs along with an innovation cafe and rental space for companies that have outgrown Valley Venture Mentors’ space but are not yet ready to fully strike out on their own, said Jay Minkarah, president and CEO of DevelopSpringfield.
“This is part of a really comprehensive plan for revitalization in the downtown area and the innovation district,” he said.
DevelopSpringfield is a public-private partnership aimed at revitalizing Springfield. Other projects include demolishing the old River Inn on State Street and the ongoing work at the Gunn Block, also on State Street.
The innovation Center will spur the growth of new, smart companies in a variety of industries.
“The innovation side is really where we are seeing so much of the growth in Massachusetts,”
Minkarah said. “Springfield really needs to grow as a center for innovation and entrepreneurship.”
The Springfield Innovation Center got a boost Tuesday when Gov. Deval Patrick announces with a $2.2 million grant from the state’s MassWorks Infrastructure Program. Patrick also announced an additional $4.2 million for the refurbishment of Union Station on Tuesday.
Monday night, the Springfield City Council voted to transfer 270 Bridge St. the Emerald City Cafe to DevelopSpringfield for $10,000.
DevelopSpringfield already owns the neighboring Doubleday Building at 276-284 Bridge St., Minkarah said.
Design work on the 16,450-square-foot project begins soon. He said he hopes that the core of the project, Valley Venture Mentors, can occupy the space starting in January 2016.
Valley Venture Mentors is currently using temporary space in Tower Square as co-working space. It’s a collaborative office where entrepreneurs can bounce ideas off one another, compete for prizes and work with mentors.
“There will be a ground-level presentation and function space, where entrepreneurs can come in for workshops and participate in pitch contests,” Minkarah said.
Pitch contests offer people with ideas for new business prizes based on a short “elevator pitch,” or a sales talk given in the time it takes to ride an elevator.
The Innovation Cafe is a notion put forth by Paragus Strategic IT CEO Delcie Bean and others. The idea is to have a hang-out for tech start ups with coffee and food as well as lots of computer connectivity and large computer display screens so business people can give presentations right at their tables.