By Jim Vaughan, Senior Fellow.
Baylor University and the Greater Waco Chamber are partnering to implement several action items from the Next Level Strategy developed with Market Street Services with the opening of THINC SPACEdowntown.
“With a nationally ranked entrepreneurship program at Baylor and the Chamber aspiring to populate the city’s resurgent downtown with new businesses in the creative sector, the project is a win-win opportunity for our university and colleges and the Chamber,” McGowan said.
“Our vision is to become the creative start-up capital of Texas and this facility will help put us on the map,” he said.
Market Street called for a partnership with Baylor to start-up one permanent student-owned business annually, McGowan said. Another action step in the plan was to create an incubator/co-working space downtown. “We’re accomplishing both with THINC SPACE,” he said.
The Waco Tribune Herald reported on February 16, that the initial businesses at THINC SPACE are coming from the Accelerated Ventures program in the Hankamer Business School at Baylor where students create real companies and sell real products. The Baylor Angel Network provides $5,000 for each company and other donors supply about $150,000 to the program each year.
“We also expect to attract students and graduates of other area colleges to THINC SPACE,” McGowan said, citing the game and interactive media design and culinary arts programs at Texas State Technical College and the visual and performing arts programs at McLennan Community College.
The Chamber will also market THINC SPACE to entrepreneurs not affiliated with the area’s academic institutions.
McGowan said Market Street alerted the Chamber to the NEXT Innovation Center in Greenville, SC as a best practice example of the new generation of business incubators and it became an inspiration for THINC SPACE. “We visited Greenville on an InterCity Visit in 2011 and came back determined to do something similar,” McGowan said.
“THINC SPACE is part incubator, part community gathering place, and part professional support network for creative start-ups,” McGowan said. “It has already created quite a buzz on campus and around town and will be yet another community asset that will help us attract talent that can live anywhere.”