Economic development happens through a culture of innovation — entrepreneurs can build economic, educational and cultural strength in underserved neighborhoods while growing their own businesses. [StartUptown — the organizing principle]
An urban campus/incubator for technology and social innovation — StartUptown is a nonprofit organization that provides collaborative work and living space for early-stage entrepreneurs and their companies at below market rates. Its location is the underserved community of Uptown, in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.
THE VISION is to build a community-connected campus of entrepreneurial activity in the eastern half of the Uptown neighborhood — and to retain companies as they grow upwards of 20-50 employees.
THE ORGANIZING PRINCIPLE is that economic development happens through a culture of innovation — that entrepreneurs can build economic, educational, and cultural strength in underserved neighborhoods — while growing their own businesses.
In part, StartUptown functions as a community clearinghouse to promote, encourage, and support the resurgence of its distressed neighborhood. The organization seeks to attract new residents and new startup ventures to locate in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood. Through event programming, it encourages networking among Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurial communities — and the education of our residential community and legislative representatives about the benefits of supporting early-stage startup businesses to help build a healthy regional economy.
The Fifth Avenue site has supported 14 startup groups and socially innovative organizations over the past 4 years (see Residents page). StartUptown began as an incubator/coworking space “by default” in October 2006 when Dale McNutt shuttered a corporate design business after 26 years. The building at 1936-1942 Fifth Avenue is 12,700 square feet with two residential apartments and 10,000 square feet of commercial space. It is zoned mixed-use. McNutt purchased the building and began its renovation in Spring 2002. For more detail on StartUptown history, evolution, and vision, see blog, “Welcome to StartUptown.”
StartUptown’s ability to attract entrepreneurial companies is aided by:
LOCATION in the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone (PCKIZ). The PCKIZ provides tech startups up to $25,000 in grant dollars, easy access to tax credits, and paid internships through the 4 universities in the zone (Duquesne, Carlow, and Point Park Universities, and the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)) — plus other benefits. The PCKIZ is our local Technology-based Economic Development organization. It is a public/private partnership that promotes and stimulates local community economic development.
PROXIMITY to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), University of Pittsburgh, Chatham University and others, and the universities in the PCKIZ zone; alongside the the Second Avenue technology cluster — including the Pittsburgh Technology Council, Innovation Works, Catalyst Connection, and the Technology Entertainment Center of CMU.
EASY-ACCESS between all points North, East, South, and West, Uptown is very user-friendly… With bike trails and river walkways, StartUptown occupies the vital connecting corridor between Oakland — a university, medical-center hub; and Downtown Pittsburgh — business/retail center, cultural district, and sporting and event destinations. Uptown is a distressed neighborhood that is evolving rapidly — propelled by Duquesne University, UPMC Mercy, and the community organization, Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh, along with business and resident stakeholders.
NEED for affordable coworking and residential spaces — nearby Innovation Works/AlphaLab startups often graduate with only small amounts of investment capital, but with the mentoring to propel their business ideas forward — and other startups emerging from local universities — like CMU’s Project Olympus and Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Heinz College — require affordable, collaborative work and residential spaces. The coworking model is just gaining traction in Pittsburgh — StartUptown has built upon that model over the past three years in a creative coworking environment built from a unique community architectural asset.
From BusinessWeek magazine, November 2009, Spencer E. Ante
A crop of groundbreaking companies is emerging from the wreckage of the Great Recession. During the first half of 2009, angel investors financed 24,500 new ventures, 6% more than during the same period last year, according to the Center for Venture Research. Though the overall amount of money going into startups has declined, the figures suggest that 2009 will see the birth of 50,000 companies with enough promise that someone is betting money on them.
“It may be that this is the best time to start a company,” says Carl Schramm, president of the Kauffman Foundation. Startups are playing an increasing role in American business, and they may play a central role in any recovery. As of the end of 2008, companies infused with venture capital were responsible for generating 12 million jobs and 20% of U.S. gross domestic product.