Innovation center in Buena Vista supports startup businesses

The Virginia Innovation Collective helps entrepreneurs in the early stages of their businesses

The innovation center in Buena Vista is giving small business owners a launching pad to kickstart their companies

BUENA VISTA, Va. – The Virginia Innovation Collective planted roots in Buena Vista with the goal of focusing on agriculture and agriculture technology while supporting entrepreneurs in the early stages of their businesses.

“Having a center where they can come and set up for less expensive rents, give people an opportunity to really drive their manufacturing processes with some support,” said Cathy Deacon, the Vice President of Business Resource Development.

Located in a former factory, the space is perfect for startup businesses, like Natalie Ashton’s.

Ashton’s company makes 3D incubators and incubator accessories, and she said it grew exponentially after setting up shop in the Innovation Center.

“This is a unique opportunity that I don’t think exists anywhere else in the state. I need a space to help my business grow,” said Ashton who created Electric Iris 3D.

The seven businesses in the facility represent several different innovative ideas, from drone manufacturing to glass recycling and even growing mushrooms.

“We realized that space to manufacture, consultants, and people who can help advise on commercialization is critically important at those early stages,” said Annette Patterson, the President of the Advancement Foundation.

The Center received a $105,000 grant to buy equipment for a commercial kitchen. Just last week, it received a $700,000 grant to build the kitchen and make the facility more ADA accessible. That’s just the start of what’s to come.

“We’re going to build out an outdoor recreation, so an outfitter as well as a brewery and café and retail space. We’ll also host the welcome center for Buena Vista,” added Patterson.

Virginia Innovation Collective is growing, and like the businesses inside, changing the outlook on agriculture, one idea at a time.

About the Author:

Alyssa Rae grew up in Roanoke and graduated from Virginia Tech. An avid sports fan, she spent her first 8 years in TV as a sports anchor and reporter.