North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Davidson College another first for the state: a 1920s textile building re-created from the inside out as a regional center for the way people work today and will work in the days to come.
"We've got some really smart people in this state, and now in this building, making life better for people," Cooper said after a tour. "We're talking about people being more prosperous and being all they can be."
In a little over an hour inside The Hurt Hub, Cooper and Davidson President Carol Quillen listened in on a machine-learning interest group, shopped for groceries while wearing virtual reality goggles, chatted with the CEO of a cybersecurity firm, posed (unwittingly) for over-the-shoulder selfies by workspace sharers and learned about a brand-new window-washing drone technology developed by three Davidson seniors currently seeking venture capital to expand their company.
Higher education and entrepreneurship are a solid fusion, Cooper said.
The Hurt Hub is a 23,000-square-foot innovation hub and entrepreneurial co-working space that Davidson renovated in the old mill building to LEED Gold status. It opened for business in July and even ahead of its dedication and launch party Sept. 6 is already serving as a fuel injector for the Lake Norman regional economy, said Mark McDowell, founder of LaunchLKN, a network for technology startups that is headquartered at The Hurt Hub.
McDowell is ready for Davidson students to get back next week.
"I think the students with the liberal arts degrees are the next wave coming in to tech," he said. "What we actually need is human beings who are thinking critically. We need people with humane instincts."
Peter Marsh, founding partner of The Hub's operating partner Flywheel Coworking, said Cooper's visit underscores how Davidson reaches beyond what liberal arts colleges typically do to partner with entrepreneurs, businesses and community partners. The combination offers opportunities for students to bridge what they are doing in classrooms with the world beyond Davidson.
"The power of designing a core innovation community like Flywheel's with an educational institution like Davidson, with its focus on research and the youth who represent the future, that's the secret sauce," Marsh said.
The governor said real-world initiatives like The Hurt Hub sync with his own mission for better educated North Carolinians with more money in their pockets.
"Cradle to career investment in education is critical," Cooper said.
Lucid Drone Technologies co-founder Andrew Ashur '19, who graduated early to devote himself to the company, said The Hurt Hub is one more way Davidson is reimagining the liberal arts in the 21st century.
"You get the best of both worlds," Ashur said. "You get the educational experience that teaches you to think critically and with an open mind, and then you get surrounded by these seasoned entrepreneurs with guidance and direction for real world application, to find a way to do something that's never been done before or to do something in a better way."
See Lucid Drone Technology in action.
Connect with LaunchLKN.
Check out Flywheel Coworking at The Hurt Hub.
Visit The Hurt Hub website to learn more.