VOL. 130 | NO. 248 | Tuesday, December 22, 2015
EPIcenter Launches Work, Business Space In Germantown
By Andy Meek
The EPIcenter entrepreneurship organization has teamed up with the city of Germantown to open a collaborative work and business space in the Carrefour at Kirby Woods, a shopping center at the intersection of Poplar Avenue and Kirby Road.
The resulting 900-square-foot space at 6645 Poplar Ave., suite 200, includes amenities like furnished cubicles; a common area that could be adjusted to become an additional work space; conference room; Wi-Fi and more.
The city of Germantown, EPIcenter and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation decided to launch the space – and the programming it will include – in response to recommendations in Germantown’s Economic Development Strategic Plan. Funding for what’s being called EPIcenter Germantown also was approved by Germantown’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen in June in the form of a $20,000 grant.
Likewise, the Delta Regional Authority’s States’ Economic Development Assistance Program made an investment of more than $93,000 to fund programming.
EPIcenter president Leslie Lynn Smith said the new facility is meant to provide a cost-effective work environment, along with programming and support to encourage the growth of startups and other small enterprises. Memberships, open to all area residents, will be available to buy starting Jan. 6, and an open house will be held at the space Jan. 12. The membership pricing breakdown includes monthly passes for $125 and daily passes for $15.
Smith talks about the mission of EPIcenter Germantown within the context of a regional approach to promoting entrepreneurship resources and neighborhoods: “This space and its programming will help participating companies grow and connect to each other, to needed expertise and resources and to the broader ecosystem.”
Once EPIcenter Germantown is up and running, a community manager will oversee scheduling; a full calendar of programming and events will be unveiled in January. In addition to that programming, networking events and office hours will put participants in contact with local experts in venture capital, finance, accounting, marketing and sales.
From Germantown’s perspective, the project is a natural fit. The city says it’s awash in intellectual capital, with 98 percent of its population over 25 years old holding a high school diploma or higher and more than half of the population possessing at least a bachelor’s degree.
For EPIcenter, word of the partnership with Germantown comes as Smith is drawing to the end of her first year as the organization’s first president and is thinking about where the organization goes next in 2016.
Among the new things it tried over the past 12 months, EPIcenter launched a logistics accelerator sponsored by FedEx that worked with five teams from Memphis and beyond. And Smith and EPIcenter are still working toward the charge of helping launch 500 new companies and 1,000 entrepreneurs over the next decade.
Its founding mission was that EPIcenter would help connect resources like accelerators, incubators, mentors, investors, networking programs and the higher education community as well as technical assistance programs for entrepreneurs. Its partners include the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle, Bioworks, Emerge Memphis and Start Co., among others.