Farmville Innovation Hub gets final funding needed for construction

Published 4:24 pm Wednesday, August 17, 2022

FARMVILLE – On Wednesday, Aug. 17, the planned Farmville Innovation Hub received the final piece of funding needed to begin construction. Virginia senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced that nearly $2 million in federal dollars would be coming to the project. 

Officials from both Longwood University and across the region praised the decision to give $1.943 million. Under the plan, the Longwood University Real Estate Foundation would build a facility to serve as both a business development and community training center. It would feature business consulting, co-working spaces and educational training rooms. 

“(This will be) the culmination of months of collaboration and regional strategy development,” said Sheri McGuire, Longwood University Associate Vice President for Community and Economic Development. “(The hub) will be a creative intersection of partners, entrepreneurs, ideas and supportive programming for all ages, cultivating regional innovation and entrepreneurial opportunities for years to come.”

The Farmville Innovation Hub will be located in the currently vacant 10,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Midtown Square. Funding for the Innovation Hub includes the $674,304 GO Virginia grant for equipment, $500,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and $375,050 from the Longwood Real Estate Foundation. 

Farmville Innovation Hub a long-term project

This is an effort almost four years in the making. The Growth and Opportunity (GO) Virginia council, one of the state’s economic development groups, started working on this with Longwood in 2019. Farmville and the surrounding area is part of GO’s Region 3. 

Before setting this up, they looked at several models. One of those was the SOVA Innovation Hub. Located in South Boston, SOVA was established in 2020. They also examined a similar hub in Staunton. 

“We’ve looked at so many and came up with the right mix,” McGuire said.  

“This innovation hub will be a game-changer for businesses still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Warner and Kaine said in a joint statement. “This funding will help the Farmville area build a community space that will allow local businesses to work and expand while promoting economic development throughout the region.” 

The Farmville facility will include maker spaces, coworking spaces and training and gathering spaces as well as an SBDC office for training and consulting. The new facility will be available to host community courses in entrepreneurship and innovation; Southside Virginia Community College workshops and camps for trades, technology and STEM. 

It’ll also be available for youth camps focused on problem solving; professional development for teachers; leadership development and community problem solving; and collegiate innovation courses currently co-taught by Longwood and Hampden-Sydney faculty.