The city of Dublin −in partnership with TechColumbus− created the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center to house, and provide resources to, innovative startup companies.
Located at 7003 Post Rd., the four-story DEC building currently is home to 45 businesses; nearly an entire floor of the DEC is occupied by green technology startups and is commonly referred to as the “Green Integrator.”
Other industries represented by DEC occupants include food research and technology, engineering, web marketing and development, business consulting, social media, and education, says Sandy Blanquera, CEO and Founder of Social Boomerang, who handles social media and communications for the DEC.
Benefits associated with leasing the center’s space include a DEC mailing address; access to DEC conference rooms and presentation rooms free of charge; on-site resources, such as free wireless Internet and a shared copier/printer/scanner for a nominal fee; and access to DEC Collaborators, Tech Columbus staff, and SBDC representatives.
Plus, the DEC hosts 15 to 25 free classes and workshops per month. Events are open to the public and registration can be done at Meetup.com/TechLifeColumbus. Past topics include legal issues, public relations, and marketing.
Another benefit is access to an online community of entrepreneurs, “where questions can be asked and answered, events can be posted, and ideas can be shared,” Blanquera says. The center has a Twitter account (@DECinDublin) a Facebook page, and a group on LinkedIn.
The DEC, which officially opened in April 2009, is the brainchild of Dana McDaniel, deputy city manager and director of economic development for the city of Dublin, Blanquera says.
At the outset, McDaniel asked Blanquera, Chaz Freutel (who runs the DEC building, handles leases, and works with the Green Integrator), and Rick Coplin (who provides business and technology coaching, and engages the technology community) to be involved with center’s development.
“All three of us act as a conduit to others to establish relationships as a collaborator or sponsor of the DEC, act as a resource of information, help with tours, plan for training and events, and help put events on,” Blanquera says.
This year, two additional consultants −Mike Long and Pat Valente− were added to “assist in shaping the DEC,” she adds. They meet once a month and work as needed.
“Chaz and I are paid for out of funds set aside by the city of Dublin, Rick is funded through TechColumbus,” she continues. “A small amount of money goes to help with the Green Integrator. Nothing else is funded. Everything has evolved from sponsorships, donations, and collaboration.”
Further, several city officials “advise and provide indirect support upon request,” she says. They include McDaniel; Tammy Brown, administrative specialist; Colleen Gilger, economic development administrator; and Nancy Richison, Dublin’s former public information officer.
The two most frequently asked questions Blanquera says she gets from entrepreneurs are “Is there office space available?” and “How can I hold an event at the DEC?”
In regard to the former question, Blanquera says the DEC building is at capacity for existing office space.
“However, we do have some cubicles open, which puts people on the waiting list for any offices that open up. We also have the option to lease offices in the building next door to us and are looking at future DEC space.”
She encourages interested entrepreneurs to contact Freutel to discuss their space needs.
In regard to the latter, Blanquera says numerous event requests are made each month .
“A committee consisting of Chaz, Rick, Myself, the economic development folks, Mike, and Pat all review these events once a month,” she continues. “We try to pre-plan our events to give them the most exposure possible, so we encourage people to submit them at least 60 days in advance.”
Requests can be made online at DECinDublin.com/events/schedule-your-event.
In the future, the DEC’s main goals are “to expand,” Blanquera says. “We are also looking at how to integrate international business. As well, we are looking into creating centers of influence within the DEC, such as technology, creative work, mobile applications. We’d like to continue to ramp up our monthly events, but also look at the idea of offering some type of an in-depth entrepreneur training program.”
To learn more about the Dublin Entrepreneurial Center, visit DECinDublin.com.