Errin Stanger Centers Resources at Innovation Hub

Errin Stanger Centers Resources at Innovation Hub
Errin Stanger • Director of Winrock’s Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub

Errin Stanger was named director of Winrock’s Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub in December, after having served as acting director since May, when predecessor Chris Jones stepped down to run for governor. She joined the Hub as programs and membership associate when it was founded in 2014, and she is the first woman to lead the nonprofit.

Previously, Stanger was involved with the planning team for the Argenta Downtown Development project and has served on numerous city boards. She chaired the 2006 Susan G. Komen Arkansas Race for the Cure and served on the state Computer Science & Cybersecurity Task Force. She is also a community organizer of the Kauffman Foundation’s North Little Rock for Global Entrepreneurship Week and producer of the North Little Rock Maker Faire. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology, with a minor in urban studies, from Rhodes College in Memphis.

Stanger takes over as Winrock International prepares to move its headquarters to the Hub and renovate its building.

What are some of the tools the Hub provides to entrepreneurs?

The Innovation Hub provides a space for entrepreneurs, young and old, to dream. Our 22,000-SF building is filled with tools and classes to help entrepreneurs create their own products. This may encompass a simple workstation, a pottery wheel, a computer with software designed to help an entrepreneur create their own logo, screen printing that brings the company logo to life or a table saw and MIG (metal inert gas) welder that helps create a custom table. We see entrepreneurs grow their businesses at the Innovation Hub, and we stand beside them to provide support, guidance and access to create their products.

What are some concrete achievements of the Hub?

We’ve served more than 18,000 youth through STEAM field trips, summer camps and after-school programming.

Our creation of the Mobile Makerspace in 2018 expanded our outreach to rural communities. We have visited 22 counties and served 16,000 individuals with our mobile units.

We’ve provided more than 13,000 units of personal protective equipment to our Arkansas neighbors in need when the pandemic arrived in Arkansas.

Our Skills to Launch pre-apprenticeship program provides a pathway for young adults to start a career. We have a 70% job placement and individuals are working in the fields of welding, HVAC, construction and industrial maintenance. Our third cohort graduated on Dec. 16, and more than half of the soon-to-be graduates are employed.

We partnered with Best Buy to create the first Best Buy Teen Tech Center in Arkansas. This teen center will be located inside the Innovation Hub and will provide free programming to high school students to improve tech equity and tech access to help empower young people.

What does Arkansas need to do to better foster innovation and entrepreneurship?

Focus on collaboration and dream BIG.

We need to increase access to educational resources and provide state-of-the-art equipment and partnerships that put Arkansas at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship. It is critical that we focus on digital equity and access to technology and funding to provide a pathway for startups to grow in Arkansas.

We also need to provide easy access to pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs to create skilled laborers for our industry partners. We have a shortage of laborers, and we also have community members looking to change their career path. Arkansas should be the epicenter of showing the nation how to create skilled pathways for our citizens.