The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub is full ‘STEAM’ ahead

by Todd Jones (tejones1971@gmail.com) 219 views 

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub held an open house on Thursday, March 3, 2016, in North Little Rock, but it has been “gaining steam” for more than a year. The open house showcased the facility’s new spaces, recognized those who support the organization and informed the community of new opportunities and changes.

The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub is a nonprofit organization that drives innovation and entrepreneurship through various programs and partnerships in three collaborative spaces under the same roof. It seeks to develop students and workers in the “STEAM” fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

During the recent gathering, Innovation Hub Executive Director Warwick Sabin welcomed guests and introduced various supporters, including North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith, Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, Delta Regional Authority co-chairman Chris Masingill, and Iberiabank Regional President Phillip Jett.

Mayor Smith expressed the pride that North Little Rock has of the Hub saying, “We know what the next generation of economic development looks like. We know that a big part of the future is innovation.”

Delta Regional Authority co-chairman Chris Masingill reiterated the organization’s commitment to the Innovation Hub as a strategic part of the DRA’s game plan.

“DRA has been a proud investor in the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub from the ground up, and it is exciting to see this dream become a reality for entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, and students,” he said after the event. “The Hub is an important piece of our regional ecosystem, providing access to the tools Arkansans need to build and grow their ideas into businesses that create jobs and help drive our state’s economy.”

Iberiabank is the title sponsor for the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week and committed to investing in spaces such as the Hub. Jett announced that Iberiabank will be contributing $50,000 over five years forming a strategic partnership with the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub.

Among the new spaces at the Hub is the co-working space. The original concept of the Hub was to have various spokes, each of which would have its own branding under the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub umbrella. Recently, Hub leaders decided to dismiss the individual brandings and the new entrepreneurial space is simply known as Co-Work.

The other two spaces are Make, formerly known as the Launch Pad, and Design, formerly known as the Art Connection.

The Co-Work space comes equipped with tables for work, offices for the staff, conference rooms, phone rooms for private calls and a coffee bar which will be managed by Mugs Cafe of North Little Rock.

In addition to the Co-Work space, the Design space revealed a renovation that includes a Digital Studio, Screen Print Studio, Ceramic Studio and a Design Studio in addition to a dark room.

Students will have an opportunity to learn various design including ceramics, digital design such as Photoshop, screen printing, printmaking, fibers & textiles and image transfers through the organizations “Designing the Future Workshops.”

Recent hires by the Hub have rounded out the staff. Hannah May is the new Artist in Residence, Shawn Prater is Technology Administrator. In addition, Kim Lane is the new Director of Digital and Entrepreneurial Programming helping in the Co-Work Space.

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