In spring 2017, Downtown Binghamton will become home to the new Southern Tier High Technology Incubator (STHTI), taking steps toward bringing back its industrial base and creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The 37,000-square-foot incubator is being built by Binghamton University, SUNY Broome and regional economic development partners, which are funded by a variety of primarily governmental sources. The incubator will be located at 120 Hawley Street and will house at least 12 new startup companies.
According to Per Stromhaug, the assistant vice president for entrepreneurship and economic development at BU, the incubator’s purpose is to grow new companies, recruit entrepreneurs, foster student entrepreneurship and encourage companies to relocate to the city of Binghamton.
“Eventually we’ll have more of an innovative economy in the greater Binghamton area that will hopefully lead to a transformation of the economy,” Stromhaug said. “I think it will benefit Binghamton University tremendously.”
The incubator will have 18 laboratories on two floors including five dry labs, four wet labs containing sinks, drains and hoods, conference rooms and offices for small business development centers. It is projected to create over 250 jobs within the first three years and 900 over a nine-year period.
Stromhaug said the building itself will house between 60 and 100 people, but it will take time to grow to that number. According to him, the challenge with startup companies is that they initially need very little in terms of support, but can grow very rapidly and require more resources.
Christopher Valentine, a junior majoring in political science, said that as someone who grew up locally, he believes the new incubator could be an important source of economic growth for the area.
“As a Vestal High School alum and current Binghamton University student, the project could also provide opportunities for high school students to explore career fields related to technology, as well as potentially increase the amount of local high school students attending Binghamton University and remaining in the area post-graduation,” Valentine said.
The STHTI currently has $19 million in funding through collaborative contributions from the Regional Economic Development Council, a NYSUNY 2020 grant, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Broome County Industrial Development Agency and the SUNY Research Foundation. It is included in BU’s START-UP NY tax-free zone, in which either new companies to the area or existing companies that are expanding can apply to become members. Companies operating in the incubator will pay no New York state income tax for 10 years.
The incubator will house companies that have already secured funding, are far along in their development or are making final prototypes of their products.
Construction began in fall 2015, with work on the upper parking lot, roofing, stairs, electrical, plumbing and sprinkler system. According to Ryan Yarosh, the director of media and public relations at BU, completion is expected for spring 2017, with an occupancy date of May 17, 2017.
Stromhaug said if the Downtown area is built up, he hopes students will start businesses here instead of relocating after graduation.
“This is the anchor point of the Binghamton innovation district — to try to change Downtown Binghamton into a desirable place to have your business,” Stromhaug said. “The more attractive Binghamton is, as not only a cultural center with restaurants, but also innovative technology and jobs, the more likely it is that we will recruit top-notch students.”