The Hub Powered by PNC has had an impactful first year — energizing the local entrepreneurial spirit, revitalizing an important downtown landmark and creating unparalleled opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in new ventures.
“We’re marking the Hub’s first anniversary March 4 by celebrating the partnerships that bring to life our vision for a space where entrepreneurs, students and community come together to learn, grow and positively impact the Dayton region,” said Vince Lewis, the University of Dayton’s associate vice president for entrepreneurial initiatives and president of the Hub.
The Hub is a joint venture of the University and the Entrepreneurs’ Center. At 100,000 square feet, it is one of the largest university-anchored innovation hubs in the country. It’s a place where more than 100 entrepreneurs and small businesses renting space can pop in on a class of students, like the Thursday morning “Hub Talks” in Eric Janz’ and Kevin Hallinan’s engineering design class. Where Black, woman, and other under-resourced and underrepresented entrepreneurs can connect to resources through a satellite office of the Greater West Dayton Incubator. Where community partners like Liberty High School and Sinclair College’s Fast Forward program can collaborate in the Hub’s GEM and explore new teaching models to bring resiliency and other microcredentials to the community. And where art and design students can display their typography visualizing the work of poet Sierra Leone.
“Having creative engaging space at the Hub has been a perfect way to connect UD and the community,” said Darden Bradshaw, art and design associate professor.
With a year of activity to its credit, the Hub is still growing. This semester, the University has 32 classes — art and design, engineering, business and more — hosted onsite with over 300 students. More events are planned, including Imagining Community in March and the Flyer Pitch final round in April. Private office space for businesses is almost full, with some reserved for underrepresented entrepreneurs through a new program with the Greater West Dayton Incubator. Future plans call for building out the third floor with the addition of more classrooms and offices.
“Entrepreneurs catalyze economic growth, they transform communities, and they create a culture all their own. At the Hub, all three are happening,” said Scott Koorndyk, president of the Entrepreneurs’ Center and executive vice president of the Hub. “Our regional startup ecosystem is in the midst of a renaissance, and the Hub is a huge part of our momentum.”
The Hub offers opportunities for students to build their skills, and helps entrepreneurs, like Kameron “Elijah” Seabrook, launch and grow their businesses.
“From the staff, to the mentors, the space itself, and endless amounts of resources, I can honestly say that being in such a synergy has changed the trajectory of where I was taking Open Bay,” said Seabrook, founder of Open Bay Autos, a DIY community and mechanic shop providing the tools and space for car enthusiasts.
“From my time spent at The Hub, I am in the final stages of raising funding for a business model that will reinvent the automotive industry. Dayton has such a rich history of innovation and I’m looking forward to continuing the trend” he said. “I couldn’t be more thankful to the incredible community here that allows people like me to thrive.”
The partnerships benefit undergraduates too, like engineering student Grace Silverberg, who gained experience as a paid intern with UD’s Stitt Scholars program by working with entrepreneur and Lunnie founder Sarah Kallile to conduct absorbency tests on a new, leak proof nursing bra for breastfeeding moms.
Other students have redesigned space at the Old Salem Mall for indoor farming and co-share kitchen space; run the accounting and marketing functions for the Hub’s Startup Grounds bistro through the student-run Flyer Enterprises; and started their own businesses in a sophomore class with $5,000 seed funds.
It all happens, as entrepreneurship professor David Marshall says, in the creative and unique space that energizes everyone involved.
“In its first year, The Hub Powered by PNC Bank has brought together students, faculty and staff, regional entrepreneurs, local business leaders and global experts to form collaborative ideas and groundbreaking solutions to meet the needs of the Dayton area,” said David Melin, PNC regional president for Dayton. “With extensive programming and services for UD students and residents across the region, we aim to help advance the Dayton area’s business community and strengthen the foundation for the city’s future.”