Earlier this year the Mattoon in Motion Robust Economy group sought participation from the community to gauge interest in an innovation center being proposed by our members. We received great feedback from the public to our survey and are working on implementing our findings.
The mission of the currently named Cross County Innovation Center is to encourage, connect and grow small and startup businesses in the region by creating a mixed-use, co-working space that provides resources and opportunities to empower success. We are working toward developing this innovation center in an underutilized space in the Cross County Mall in partnership with Rural King. Rural King has generously donated nearly 6,000 square feet of space behind the former In-Home Medical retail location.
We are currently working on the first phase of our three-phase process. The first phase once achieved will be ready to use space. This ready to use space will be a multipurpose facility for gatherings and innovative idea sharing. It will have all the basic communication components in place for start-ups and small business ventures to utilize. All HVAC, restrooms, and electrical needs will be up and running. We will have a polished concrete floor and the highest speed internet access available.
The second phase of our project will include a formally completed workspace, with finished interior design. We will have a warm and inviting location with glass elements for aesthetics. We will have multiple conference rooms with teleconferencing equipment. We will have workstations and privacy booths for client interaction. We will have business mailboxes and a business center available for members to utilize. It will be a community facing co-work space complete and ready for business partnerships. We will have an open floor plan area with a coffee/breakfast bar for member entrepreneurs.
The third phase of our project will include a partnership with Classe, the countywide entrepreneur high school junior and senior class which will use hold all of their classes at the Innovation Center. It will have 24/7 access for members who need a working space when their schedule allows. We plan on continuing to involve the community and civic organizations in the planning and implementation of the Center.
Our ultimate goal is to keep our local talent in the community and region by providing them with a fantastic location to spark their entrepreneurial spirit and grow their businesses at home. It is not just about the space it’s what will happen in this space. New ideas will collide, start-ups will learn and be mentored, and entrepreneurs will collaborate and be given the assistance they need to grow. To complete this we will need the communities to help to make this happen and at a future time will need the financial support of the community for operational cost until the center is able to become fully actualized.
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