The Forge opens new office
BY LAURIE WINSLOW World Staff Writer
Friday, September 28, 2012
9/28/12 at 4:41 AM
For Gina Bradford, moving her technology business into The Forge - a downtown center that provides support to young entrepreneurs - couldn't have been a better fit.
Not only does this CEO of Bradford Technology Services, which focuses on cloud technology for small- to medium-sized businesses, live downtown, but she is active in things going on in the city's core.
"I wanted to have an office location downtown. That was something that was real important to me," Bradford said.
What attracted her to the center was its many resources, including information about insurance, public relations and funding.
She learned about The Forge from Shane Hood, a TYPros member who was instrumental in helping decorate and design the small-business incubator located in the Wright Building Annex at 125 W. Third St.
"I just think it's exciting to see another opportunity for small business to have the support in Tulsa, not to mention having another venue in downtown," Bradford said. "Anything that supports small businesses, especially in downtown, I think it's great."
On Thursday afternoon, Bradford wasn't alone in praising the downtown center. City leaders, representatives of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and young professionals gathered to celebrate the grand opening of The Forge's new home, which provides affordable office space to startups, and access to core services and business advisers.
"We couldn't be more excited to open up the doors ... to a new permanent space that will allow us to expand our services and create a genuine entrepreneurial hub in downtown Tulsa," said Brian Paschal, executive director of The Forge and TYPros, or Tulsa's Young Professionals.
The idea for the small-business incubator for young professionals began in 2005 when TYPros was formed.
By 2010, TYPros officially had unveiled The Forge at a temporary location at 206 S. Cheyenne Ave. to see if the model was viable before relocating early last year to a leased ninth-floor suite at One Technology Center, 175 S. Cincinnati Ave.
Tulsa's Future, the Tulsa Metro Chamber's public-private economic development plan, is a partner and supporting funder of TYPros. Tulsa's Future committed the original $10,000 during The Forge's startup phase.
Now, at its new permanent home, The Forge can host up to seven businesses at once, with co-working space for up to 25.
The move is accompanied by a new partnership with the Tulsa Economic Development Corp., which is now housed in the same location, and the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center, which will have a full-time representative at The Forge. The new partnerships are intended to combine a variety of support and resources for entrepreneurs into a one-stop shop.
"The vision was to create a space where like-minded entrepreneurs could come together and brainstorm and create new business and just create economic activity in one space," said Rose Washington, executive director of TEDC.
The objectives of The Forge are to support aspiring entrepreneurs, create jobs and positively impact economic development, said Mark Smith, chairman of The Forge advisory team and CEO of ChartMark Investments Inc.
The Forge's services "alleviate some of the challenges faced by startup companies, allowing tenants to focus greater time and efforts on the execution of their business plans," Smith said.
"The Forge was created first and foremost to attract and retain our homegrown talent, and provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs. One cannot overstate the value of entrepreneurism in Tulsa," said Becky Frank, chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and chairman and CEO of Schnake Turnbo Frank PR.
She noted that 82 percent of all businesses in metro Tulsa have fewer than 10 employees, which translates to more than 29,000 businesses providing nearly 90,000 primary jobs with an estimated payroll of $1.4 billion.
"When you create a place where raw innovators are given the support, resources and know-how they need to be a successful, sustainable company, you revolutionize the business community," Frank said. "The Forge is truly a game changer for Tulsa."
Address: Wright Building Annex, 125 W. Third St. (above Ti Amo)
Description: A small-business incubator that can host up to seven businesses, with co-working space for up to 25. It provides affordable office space to startups, core services such as utilities, phone and Internet access, office supplies and meeting spaces. Tenants also have access to the Tulsa Economic Development Corp., a direct-lending program housed in the same building, and a full-time representative from the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center.
Vacancies: Five tenant openings were available Friday, as well as openings for co-working space.
Original Print Headline: The Forge opens new digs
Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466
Guests mingle as Bradford Technology Services CEO Gina Bradford works in her new office at The Forge during the small-business incubator's grand opening Thursday. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World