The Greater Waco Chamber is partnering with Baylor University to launch thInc Space, an incubator for creative startups. thIncSpace is located on the first floor of 801 Washington Ave. in Greater Downtown Waco.
A combined incubator, community gathering place and professional support network for creative startups, thIncSpace also will be new headquarters for the Baylor Accelerated Ventures program and its related businesses.
Baylor starts eight new high growth, scalable businesses each year through its Accelerated Ventures program, which will provide free office space, professional support, networking and mentoring for a year for graduating businesses.
“This agreement is a shining example of partnership between Baylor University and the Greater Waco Chamber,” said Terry Maness, D.B.A., dean of the Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. “It will help our young student entrepreneurs during and after their coursework and help to ensure success of their businesses.”
Additionally, the Chamber and its partners are actively looking for creative startup businesses in this region and beyond to grow and prosper here from idea to reality.
thInc Space compliments other organizations throughout Greater Waco that are working to support small business and startup activity. These include the Center for Business Excellence and the recently launched SCORE chapter at the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce, the Innovative Business Accelerator at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative and the Small Business Development Center at McLennan Community College.
The Chamber recognizes that small enterprises are the single largest job creation engine in the economy and is committed to supporting small business development in Greater Waco. Baylor University was recently identified as home to the No. 2 entrepreneurship program in the United States.
Couple that with the other tremendous institutional assets working to produce talent in Waco and a community that provides relatively low operating costs and barriers for small business startups, and it all adds up to a tremendous opportunity.
“The Chamber believes that Waco should be the creative startup capital of Texas. Substantial capacity and resources are available that should be leveraged to attract talent and accelerate economic development activity in the region,” said Chris McGowan, Director of Urban Development for the Chamber.
More than 50 degree programs or areas of study that produce a creative industries-ready workforce are offered through Baylor, McLennan Community College and Texas State Technical College Waco. From the Interactive Media Design and Culinary Arts programs at TSTC Waco to the Visual and Performing Arts programs at MCC and the entrepreneurship program at Baylor as well as many others, this community is producing a significant amount of talent that should provide an unparalleled small business engine for Waco.
Only 1.83% of total employment in McLennan County is a part of the “creative workforce,” 20% below the national average.
“The pieces of the puzzle are already in place; thInc space will pull them together. To achieve this vision a focused, collaborative effort on the part of many is underway,” said McGowan. “thInc Space is the first step toward the development of the Chamber’s next level entrepreneurship, talent recruitment and retention and placemaking strategies that will create opportunity and support for creative businesses and entrepreneurs in Greater Waco.”