StartingBlock to draw, keep talent in Dane County

StartingBlock to draw, keep talent in Dane County

Madison’s growing community of entrepreneurs will soon have a new place to potentially call home, StartingBlock.

The project has garnered big investors, including American Family Insurance, and the city has put aside $1.5 million for the effort in its Capital Budget.

Some say the project will help bring new life to the city’s East Capitol District.

Sector67 and startup accelerator Gener8tor will move into one space on East Washington Avenue and Livingston Street. The space will be called StartingBlock.

Startingblock, a more than $30 million endeavor, would be the anchor tenant of a new mixed-use building that would include space for mentor program, collaboration and a performing art venue.

It would be a space dedicated to sparking new ideas and giving 20- to 40-year-olds more reasons to keep their talents in Dane County.

“It’s the idea we’re creating a place where people can take these ideas to the next level; and where they have commercial applications, give them the resources to then take advantage of that. Ultimately being they create businesses, they create jobs and that’s good for Dane County,” said George Austin, project facilitator of StartingBlock.

Hobbyists, entrepreneurs, businesses and students would be invited to the space to share ideas and learn from each other. Austin said StartingBlock will have a primary focus on information tech systems, but welcomed other industries saying it’s a big tent.

The building would be in Alder Marsha Rummel’s ward, across the street from the new Constellation building, home to Google, and the soon to come Galaxie building. All buildings have been and would be constructed by Gebhardt Development.

Rummel said the effort has been a long time coming and she’s excited to see things coming together, bringing new energy and jobs to the area.

“This is part of our city and our old industrial corridor is getting revitalized,” Rummel said.

Chris Meyer, director of Sector67, said, “If you get people under one roof, get them thinking about new ideas, getting them interacting, getting them to grow this culture of community, that’s what keeps people around.”

Gephardt Development must submit a finalized design by April. Construction is expected to begin in the third quarter of 2015.