BY MARK YOUNG firstname.lastname@example.org
They often fly under the general radar, but when it comes to branding Bradenton business on a global scale or helping a local entrepreneur navigate a changing business world, Station 2 Innovation Center is at the epicenter of it all.
“The world is changing from the traditional graduate from college getting a career into an independent economy,” Station 2 and Spark Growth co-founder Stan Schultes said. “A lot of jobs are turning into non-employees to contractors, consultants or independent workers, which make up more than 40 percent of jobs today. And most of the jobs in the U.S., about 95 percent, are in companies with less than 30 people so the trend is very much small business focused.”
What Station 2 offers is a montage of services in the world of business incubation and co-working, but is essentially networking on steroids with Schultes and partner Sara Hand being plugged into business world at the highest levels locally, nationally and a growing global network of business superstars.
On Feb. 20, Spark Growth will host the sixth annual Leaders Conference at the Manatee Performing Arts Center. It brings representatives from the largest and fastest growing industries in America to Bradenton. When the pair first opened Station 2, it wasn’t just a goal to build their business and business opportunities for others, it was to highlight everything Bradenton has to offer. Top speakers who once came on the dime of their universities or businesses now pay their own way back simply to learn about the Friendly City.
“Most people see us running a co-working space, but don’t see us doing business growth,” Hand said. “For us, it’s what we do locally and how it scales out from there. It’s taken some time, but we’ve built those trusted relationships.”
Schultes said, it’s “bottom up economic development, which is very different. The National Entrepreneur Center calls is ‘Main Street Gardening.’ It’s growing business locally and then provide the resources to learn things you don’t learn in school. You can earn an MBA in school, but let’s face it, you aren’t taught how to run a business in school. We offer that pipeline to those kind of resources.”
Hand compared it to an environmental ecosystem where every small part makes up a bigger picture. She said it’s no different for an economic ecosystem.