Header Ads

Could the next tech breakthrough happen in a former hardware building?

When it came time to expand their business, Matthew Fitzgerald and Arnar Thors could have done what most do and simply upgraded their space by a few square feet. Instead, they purchased two city blocks in West Birmingham.
“We have 140,000 square feet of space total in the property right now,” Fitzgerald said while opening an old warehouse door in what used to be the historic Long Lewis Hardware building. Behind it, workers clad in hip office attire move about the space, collaborating and bouncing ideas off one another. It’s a scene that’s become commonplace in the behemoth of a building.
Hardware Park — Birmingham’s latest business incubator concept — is located at 811 5th Ave. N., spanning an impressive 6 ½ acres. Fitzgerald and Thors, who together lead Fitz-Thors Engineering, are redeveloping the hulking five-building complex into a hands-on community for engineers, innovative problem solvers and manufacturers looking to take their products and business to the next level. With enough capacity to house anywhere from 10-20 businesses, depending on space needs, Fitzgerald said he envisions Hardware Park further fueling the innovative buzz coming out of Birmingham.
“We’ve seen a need for people who want to produce new technology, but they need a space with shared equipment and resources,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s what we’re looking to do here — combine equipment and collaborate.”
Since closing on the complex in February, Fitzgerald and Thors have already welcomed four companies (in addition to their own) to the space: AerBetic, a company bringing to market a wearable alert device for diabetics; Push Product Design, a product consultancy that focuses on science, art and engineering; Local Bicycle Racks, the bike rack maker who makes all the UAB bike racks; and Downstream Logistics, a logistics firm that’s already started working out of the space.
In the coming year, Fitz-Thors will upgrade the space to make it look more like a campus where tenants can share advanced manufacturing equipment and resources while also working together on projects. Blending entrepreneurship, engineering and education will be a cornerstone of the complex.
“Small businesses are certainly a strength in our region,” Fitzgerald said. “They help grow communities.”
Along with office space, Hardware Park will also offer expansive space for startups to produce tangible technology — giving life to innovative thinking. And while much of the complex is still under heavy restoration and renovation, Fitzgerald said companies are welcome to lease space today. The more creative minds in one spot, the better, he said.
“Our hope is to help (these businesses) grow and establish themselves, and then they, in turn, grow their business and scale up — contribute back to Birmingham and the region,” Fitzgerald said while looking out a warehouse window that boasts an impressive view of the city skyline. “We certainly hope to be a catalyst for that.”
For more information on Hardware Park, visit hardwarepark.org

By Sarah Cook for This is Alabama


Get smarter in just 5 minutes - Morning Brew

Day Trading Broker

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad to see this business thriving. It deserves to continue growth due to all the measures they've already taken.

    ReplyDelete