Gov. Mike Beebe, Rep. Warwick Sabin, D-Little Rock, and AEDC director Grant Tennille revealed a $575,000 grant to the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, which held a “wall breaking” ceremony at a downtown North Little Rock building that will house the group’s efforts.
The building will be remodeled to allow for an entrepreneurial program center that will feature a network of resources, programs and education opportunities to attract, develop and retain emerging Arkansas talent.
“The nature of our economy is changing, and if our state wants to compete for the best and brightest minds, we need to change the way we think and do business,” Gov. Beebe said. “The Innovation Hub attracts those who think outside the box and who will forever change the economic climate in the area. They will be our business leaders of tomorrow.”
The innovation center combines maker space, education and arts programs, and entrepreneurial advisors and resources. Its aim is to create work space for entrepreneurs to experiment and share resources in an effort to grow start-up companies.
It is modeled after New Orleans’ Idea Village, which has provided direct support to more than 3,000 entrepreneurs, generated more than $100 million in annual revenue, and created more than 2,000 jobs in New Orleans since its inception in 2000.
“Our new Innovation Center builds on the best practices from successful national models to create a broad set of resources for people of all ages here in Central Arkansas,” said Rep. Sabin, executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub. “We will provide the opportunity for everyone to discover and develop their interests and talents and unlock their unlimited potential.”
Recently, the innovation center also received a $250,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority.