With over fifty startups now calling Downtown Durham home, it's easy to see why Durham's getting more and more national press for its startup scene.
So much press, in fact, that the Obama Administration is beginning their "Startup America" roundtable tour right here in the Bull City. The tour, which visits Durham on March 3, is meant to gather input from small business owners in an effort to reduce barriers to entrepeneurship and innovation.
Durham is one among a list of eight innovation hubs on the tour, including traditional stalwarts such as Boulder CO, the Silicon Valley, and Austin. Durham's historically been the startup-friendly town of the Triangle, mostly due to the availability of cheap office space. With commercial leases at class A spaces like American Tobacco now running the highest in the region, however, it takes something else to sustain Durham as a hub for new ventures.
This 'something else' could easily be the entrepeneurship support from groups like the Center for Entrepeneurial Development, the NC Institute for Minority Economic Development, and Bull City Forward, all of which call Downtown Durham home. Additionally, Durham now has several incubators up-and-running, including Joystick Labs and Launchbox Digital in the American Underground space at AmBacco.
Added to the mix this Spring will be Durham's Startup Stampede, a project that aims to host fifteen startups in downtown. The project comes with many sponsors, including the City and County of Durham, Self-Help Credit Union, and the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, among others.
Participants of the program will get free office space, parking, and associated support services like internet access. More importantly, though, is the mentoring and support that differentiates traditional incubators from shared office space arrangements. The Stampede promises access to lawyers, economic developers, web designers, marketing experts, and more, in an effort to give entrepeneurs a burst of business growth.
The Stampede is soliciting proposals through March 11. As of yesterday, 25 enterepeneurs have already applied.