Innovation Hub Expanding to NWA in Partnership with Fayetteville Chamber


Innovation Hub Expanding to NWA in Partnership with Fayetteville Chamber
The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce is acquiring the building at 21 W. Mountain St. (shaded in red) to develop as the northwest Arkansas location of the Innovation Hub. (Mapbox)

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, in partnership with the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, will expand to northwest Arkansas, officials announced Thursday in Fayetteville.

A second Innovation Hub will be developed in a building being acquired by the Chamber at 21 W. Mountain St. on the city's downtown square.

The Hub opened in 2013 in the Argenta district of downtown North Little Rock. It includes the Launch Pad maker space, STEAM Lab educational space, Silver Mine co-working space and Art Connection program. 

The expansion into northwest Arkansas represents the latest step in the growth of what's becoming a burgeoning tech startup scene in Arkansas.

"I applaud this new partnership between the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub and the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce's newly created NWA Innovation Hub for joining forces to better serve startup businesses in central and northwest Arkansas," said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson in a news release. "This is the type of partnership that links our state geographically, economically and intellectually. It also signals to entrepreneurs and creative thinkers outside our borders that Arkansas is fast becoming the 'innovation state.'"

The Fayetteville Hub will include facilities and programming similar to its predecessor in central Arkansas. The Hub will direct creation of the new space and assist with the development and implementation of programming.

The new Hub's first phase will include a Launch Pad maker space on the ground floor, expected to open by the first quarter of 2016. The space will include 3-D printers, CnC machines, and other equipment for rapid design and prototyping, according to the release.

"We are very excited about this opportunity to work with the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce to bring our facilities and programs to northwest Arkansas," said Warwick Sabin, executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. "Our mission is to extend access to entrepreneurial education and resources across the state, and this new partnership with the Fayetteville Chamber is a major step forward in that direction."

Once renovated, the building will house 4,500 SF. Current tenants such as Tiny Tim's Pizza and Jammin' Java will remain, officials said. 

Steve Clark, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Chamber, said the partnership with the Hub is "clear evidence" of growing entrepreneurial education opportunities and resources in the state.

"Our partnership with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub will only make the Fayetteville and northwest Arkansas innovation ecosystem stronger and further elevate the innovation culture throughout Arkansas," he said. "The Fayetteville Chamber looks forward to assisting and promoting the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in its mission to extend access to entrepreneurial education and resources throughout our state. When we are working together, there is nothing Arkansas cannot do."

The Fayetteville square is a beehive of recent startup activity. This week, the Chamber and Startup Junkie Consulting are putting on the fourth-annual Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp in Fayetteville at Startup Junkie offices overlooking the square.

Last week, the Hub announced a partnership with Startup Junkie to provide startup programs and resources, and Fayetteville entrepreneur and investor John James recently revealed plans to turn the Old Post Office on the square into a "startup hub."