South Boston building to serve many purposes
A collaboration between Microsoft and Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. (MBC) has led to plans for the first new office building to be built in downtown South Boston in more than 40 years.
Plans for the SOVA Innovation Hub call for a 15,000-square-foot, two-story building that will house MBC’s headquarters on the second floor. MBC operates a 1,900-mile fiber network designed to promote economic development in Southern Virginia.
Development of the Hub sprang from MBC’s need for more space. “We were out of space in the Southern Virginia Technology Park. We said if we are going to invest in a new property, let’s do it creatively,” says MBC’s president and CEO, Tad Deriso.
The Hub’s first floor will include offices, co-working space, collaborative work areas and event and training space as well as a base for Microsoft’s TechSpark Virginia efforts. Southern Virginia is one of the six TechSpark regions across the U.S. in which Microsoft provides expertise in areas ranging from computer science education to rural broadband access.
At the Hub, Microsoft will work with area residents “to acquire new skills, transform their businesses and launch new enterprises,” says Kate Behncken of Microsoft Philanthropies. “We are excited to play a role in MBC’s vision to create a world-class center that will enable this entire community to grow with the digital economy.”
MBC will spend more than $5 million in constructing the Hub. It will be located in downtown South Boston on the site of a former tobacco warehouse destroyed by a fire in 2002. Microsoft will provide programmatic support for the building project.
The Hub will work with regional partners such as community colleges, higher education centers, nonprofits and industry partners to help people learn new skills and start new businesses.
“We want to leverage what Microsoft does with what we do,” Deriso says. “An office technology building like this doesn’t exist in downtown South Boston now.”
The building will serve not only South Boston but also surrounding localities, from Emporia to Farmville to Danville.
Groundbreaking will take place this summer with a projected completion date of summer of 2020.
“What this does is it brings in Microsoft’s talent and commitment to improve digital skills training,” says Deriso. “If we want the rural community to prosper in this digital age, we want the right skills and resources. This will create those digital skills.”