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Miami and Oxford partner to create new tech building

<p>Miami is creating a tech hub on South Elm Street.</p>

Miami is creating a tech hub on South Elm Street.

Miami University and the City of Oxford have partnered to renovate a Miami-owned building to create the Technology, Entrepreneurial, Creativity Hub (TECH). The project will be housed in a building currently used for storage on South Elm Street. 

Miami’s director of the Office of Institutional Relations, Randi Thomas, said the building will be a space where both Oxford community members and students can bring their business ideas. Consultants will help visitors decide what the next steps are.

Thomas said they call this process “de-risking.”

“The group would help that person move their ideas forward or send them back to the drawing table,” Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene said. “It kind of just depends on where they are in the process, but almost like a vetting group.”

Thomas explained that the building and its resources would be open to anyone in the community.

“It would be basically a place for anyone to go that has what they believe to be a good idea to see about how they would develop it further, regardless of their educational attainment,” Thomas said.

TECH is still in the very early stages of development. The renovation on the current building will cost $10 million, and the building won’t be open for three to five years, Thomas said. 

Greene accompanied Miami President Greg Crawford to Washington D.C. to lobby for funding. Greene said they spoke to legislators from around the state, sharing their ideas. 

“We could be a model in our rural community, and we really want it to be kind of a pilot program,” Greene said. “We wanted [legislatures] to kind of help us try this and see if it can be used and then replicated across other small towns.”

Greene is working on grant applications for the project. She said they are considering many different funding sources, including the state capital budget and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

“Once we have that, the concept is we, in the city, would be able to recruit, hopefully, some existing businesses or some startups that need space that would be interested and then rent space to those entities as well,” Thomas said. 

Greene said Oxford is not currently investing money toward the project but might consider doing so in the future through a match grant, a grant that will match a portion of another grant. 

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“Having the space for students to engage in the community and share their experience, I think it's a good two way benefit,” Greene said.