Flywheel Announces Concord, NC Location
Flywheel Announces New Location in Concord, NC
Flywheel announced today the latest addition to its network of coworking innovation spaces will be in Concord, NC in Cabarrus County north of Charlotte. The project is a partnership with the Cabarrus Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) and other institutions focused on entrepreneurship.
The Flywheel Foundation and Flywheel LLC were invited by the CEDC in early 2020 to evaluate the feasibility of designing and operating an entrepreneurship and innovation center as an addition to Flywheel’s growing network of spaces in the southeast.
Flywheel LLC will design and master lease approximately 20,000 square feet of event, educational, meeting room, office and coworking innovation space at the historic 57 Union Street building currently under redevelopment by the owner, Concord Redevelopment Partners, led by Project Partner Justin Mueller. The shell building and apartments levels 2 through 5 are currently under construction with an anticipated construction completion by end of 2020.
At a time when most communities are evaluating the devastating effects of COVID-19 on their local businesses and economy, Cabarrus County is looking to find resiliency through innovation and entrepreneurship. The Cabarrus Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will open later this year, fulfilling a need many organizations in the community have acknowledged, but have been ill-equipped to address completely. “We have known for a while that there is a lack of resources for startups in our community,” said Page Castrodale, Existing Industry Director with Cabarrus Economic Development. “There is a lot of support for small Main Street businesses or service-based business, but if you’re an entrepreneur with a scalable startup, there really isn’t anywhere for you to go.”
The partnership between Cabarrus Economic Development and Flywheel, who currently operates coworking innovation spaces in Winston-Salem and Davidson, will result is a physical location where services, mentor networks, education, capital access and programming come together. The goal is to support the creation of new businesses and growth of existing small businesses.
The space is designed to deliver affordable space for startups and early-stage entrepreneurs, fully furnished with amenities, meeting rooms, and free or low-cost educational and networking programs and events.
A Regional Effort
“The center is a regional effort, led by the community,” said Peter Marsh, the founder of Flywheel. “The level of support we have received from stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem and the growth demographics of Cabarrus County made us confident in investing in a Flywheel location in this community.”
Castrodale says that Flywheel’s collaborative approach is what makes it such a good fit for the community. Organizations like the Cabarrus Chamber, Rowan Cabarrus Community College, the Small Business Center and others bring the best of what they already offer businesses and Flywheel will fill in the gaps. “By partnering with Flywheel,” she says, “we’ll have a continuum of services available to a business in any stage.”
While the center will be located in Concord, Marsh says he sees opportunity throughout the entire county, especially in Kannapolis. “One of the most important relationships we are looking forward to is programmatic engagement in Kannapolis and the opportunity for startups to intersect with the North Carolina Research Campus. Having that kind of knowledge asset is a draw for entrepreneurs and innovators.”
Cabarrus Economic Development and the Cabarrus Chamber will be relocating their offices to the center and other program partners will occupy suites in the space as well, co-locating their programs with those that Flywheel offers.
“We think this sends a strong message to businesses, whether you are already here or interested in moving here, that our community is committed to helping our businesses innovate and grow,” says Castrodale. “Having our office in the innovation center will only reemphasize that to the companies we interact with every day.”
Flywheel is hoping to open the new location in the fall, but Marsh said the work starts now. They will be working with local business leaders and partners throughout the summer to map out curriculum, events and networks to support entrepreneurs.
Cabarrus Economic Development will be establishing an Entrepreneurship Council to guide the work coming out of the innovation center. Marsh said they will work with this council to fill any gaps in resources for early stage companies and small businesses, including capital access. “We will be hosting popup events around the county to educate the community on opportunities and resources that will be available following the ribbon cutting late in the year.”
Castrodale says the EDC is especially thankful to be able to announce this project now, at a time when the county is seeing unemployment numbers at an all-time high. “History shows us that entrepreneurship supports economic recovery. Over half of the Fortune 500 companies were founded during a recession. We truly believe that innovation and entrepreneurship help create vibrant, equitable and sustainable communities and to be able to partner with Flywheel to enable that sort of culture here is incredibly gratifying.”
Placemaking for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Founded in 2014, Flywheel has refined its business model, revenue producing space types and programs that are essential for self-sustaining innovation centers. Our affiliated design practice, Workplace Architecture + Design has been involved in signature developments of innovation districts and innovation spaces for institutions and corporations for over 20 years.
Our work has been published by the Brookings Institution as an exemplar of how design attributes support innovation behaviors. Among the important guidelines that are applied to the Concord Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center are:
- Proximity supporting institutions and colocation of programs… the project is at the center of downtown Concord and the primary entrepreneurship programs will all be active partners.
- Density of startups… the project will support a core of more than 20 early stage companies and relevant service providers (marketing, graphic design, software development, web development, etc.) The space will support a total membership of over 200 cofounders, coworkers and community members actively using the space.
- Facilitating social interaction… the main floor includes a “social commons” that supports serendipitous interactions leading to innovation, a classroom for curriculum delivery, and a large event space for programming.
- Live / work / play mixed use… the 57 Union Street development includes apartments on levels 2-5. The location in the downtown core business district places it in the center of the restaurant and bar district, and adjacent to the master-planned downtown pedestrian district.
- Making innovation visible… the Center will become a tangible location for entrepreneurs and elevate community awareness of the role entrepreneurship plays in economic development. The vortex of programs and events will energize the region’s ecosystem and open diverse pathways for company creation and self-employment.
- Cross pollination of disciplines… Flywheel innovation centers are self-reinforcing communities that curate the diversity of demographics and knowledge that is vital for innovation. We will work strategically with the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, the business community and regional mentor networks.
- Contiguous stack of ideation activity, developmental resources, and investment capital… Flywheel operates a learning management system, a suite of monthly networking events, accelerator programs and inception-stage investment funds and will apply all of the resources and the Concord center. Equally important is our network of partners offering resources for growth-stage companies, including the angel the angel investment community (Charlotte Angel Group, Venture South and others) and the VC community nationally. Our Pitch-Space.com platform connects startups with capital resources through all stages of development.
About the Flywheel Foundation
The Flywheel Foundation is dedicated to promoting a healthy entrepreneurship ecosystem through education, research, events, innovation challenges and business accelerators. We accelerate home-grown economic development with diverse pathways for inception-stage startups, micropreneurs, students and alumni working in supportive innovation communities. We accomplish these goals in close collaboration with local governments, higher education and program partners through our Mission, Vision and Values:
Our Mission – To support entrepreneurship through research, ecosystem development, education, and investment.
Our Vision – We envision a world where entrepreneurship is accessible to anyone and the resources needed are readily available.
Our Values – Healthy communities through economic opportunity. Diversity of thought and experience. Action and progress.
About Flywheel Innovation Communities
The Flywheel Foundation’s mission is executed through a network of purpose-driven innovation communities in the Southeast. We provide the affordable place and community infrastructure where startups and entrepreneurs flourish.
We currently operate locations in Winston-Salem in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, and Davidson, NC in partnership with Davidson College. Our network will continue to grow throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in markets that have the right ingredients and community support for early-stage entrepreneurs.
The Flywheel Foundation enables an active coworking innovation model – and that’s important. Our model helps institutions and entrepreneurship programs engage with our collocated companies and programs. So, we are not only bringing innovation infrastructure to our members but also new value to the communities we serve.
At Flywheel, we’re passionate about building purpose-driven community among our members. Our coworking culture helps our members develop personally and professionally. We are actively involved – not only providing the affordable, flexible space and amenities, but more importantly helping members accelerate their success through curated social and professional development events.
That’s our purpose – to make a difference for the entrepreneurs we serve, to help them succeed, and to create an environment where new ideas flourish, get market traction, find customers and become new projects and businesses.
For more information contact: Peter Marsh, Cofounder Flywheel, firstname.lastname@example.org