Updated 

DRA invests $250,000 in Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub


LITTLE ROCK — The Delta Regional Authority on Monday awarded $251,105 to the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub for facilities and operations.

Announced in July, the Innovation Hub is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing entrepreneurial activity in Arkansas. It will house three inter-connected ventures that will work together to provide education, training, prototyping and start up and entrepreneurial opportunities.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs are a critical part of our local and regional economies. Cultivating an environment for innovation and development is crucial to the growth and success of our local entrepreneurs,” DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill said. “The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub will do just that, providing a space for entrepreneurs to network, collaborate and create the businesses, services and products of the future.”

Some features of the center:

—The Silver Mine, a co-work community for creative entrepreneurs. Already, individual entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes are signing up to have employees placed in The Silver Mine to capitalize on the creative climate and exchange of ideas, officials said.

—Fab Lab, a space where youth and adults use advanced technologies to make ideas into something tangible and sellable. During daytime hours, the space will allow for field trips to enhance educational opportunities in introductory engineering. After hours, the Fab Lab will position itself as an “open-source” hub for projects.

—Art Connection, an innovative program that works with students from North Little Rock High School to create a future through art.

“We are on a fast but focused pace in our development,” said Warwick Sabin, the organization’s executive director. “We are grateful for this generous award from the Delta Regional Authority. What’s more, we deeply appreciate the confidence in the mission and potential of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub that this significant investment represents.”

Groundbreaking for the Innovation Center is expected in early 2014, Sabin said.

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that is congressionally mandated to help create jobs, build communities and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Mississippi River Delta. Funding is provided through the DRA’s States’ Economic Development Assistance Program, which has as one of its priorities investment in small business and entrepreneurship development.