In spite of rainy weather work on the Small Business Innovation Center off of US-401 in Laurinburg is still on schedule to be completed before Christmas.
The building’s metal frame is currently being erected, revealing for the first time the size and shape of the structure, which broke ground in June. At nearly 14,000 square feet, the facility is the fruit of a burgeoning partnership between Scotland County, the city of Laurinburg and Richmond Community College.
Four RCC staffers will be housed in the facility along with Greg Icard, economic director for the county.
Having monitored the construction closely Icard is looking forward to the expected end of the year completion date, which will mark the culmination of two years of work on the center.
On one of his daily visits to the construction site on Thursday, Icard noted with excitement the progress made by local construction firm PCI in the past 24-hours.
“The rain has maybe delayed the project a little, but we are still anticipating a ribbon cutting in November or early December,” Icard said.
Funded almost entirely by grants sought after and secured by Icard, the $1,021,000 project has become a near-obsession for him since he first dreamt of it in 2009.
“It’s based on a similar program in Bladen County,” Icard said. Inspired by the success of the Bladen County effort, which Icard said has multiple large companies valued in the millions through its entrepreneurship program, Icard drew up an initial sketch of the Small Business Innovation Center in summer of 2010 which he said will closely resemble the final product.
“This project has kept me up nights — it’s my baby,” Icard said.
In addition to its entrepreneurship services, which will include instructional support by RCC as well as meeting space, the building will include 4,000 square feet of space for small/medium-sized business tenants.
Once the tenant space is filled (and Icard expects that it will be before construction concludes later this year), the center will actually pay for itself, generating revenue through rental fees.
The center will also include an expansive conference room and two large classrooms which will be accessible to local entrepreneurs. Icard, who currently works out of a small office in the crowded Scotland County Government Building on West Covington Street in Laurinburg, expects to use the facility as a show piece in future recruitment of industry.
“The conference table will be made of Pilkington glass, and there will be products from local businesses on display throughout the facility,” Icard said.
In the distant, “but not too distant,” future Icard anticipates the expansion of the innovation center and the development of a industrial park/business district in the area adjacent to the center on land already owned by the county.
“The ultimate goal is to add jobs, build on the tax base and create an environment for success,” Icard said.