HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Ground has been broken at the future site of a business hub in downtown Holland.
Lakeshore Advantage’s Next Center, located at the intersection of 7th Street and College Avenue, will include the organization’s new headquarters, a business incubator and a learning lab. Local leaders and lawmakers gathered at the site Thursday to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony.
“So exciting to see the future of our entrepreneurial ecosystem come alive. Startups, established businesses and community leaders all coming together to build something great — couldn’t get better than this,” Jennifer Owens, the president of Lakeshore Advantage, told News 8.
She said construction would start on Friday.
The Next Center will include space for up to 50 tech incubators. Lakeshore Advantage currently has a pilot incubator, called the ‘Surge Center,’ above Butch’s on 8th Street in downtown Holland.
It has 38 tenants, more than the roughly 15 Owens said they were expecting. Those startups include everything from electric vehicle and artificial intelligence businesses to a deodorant business.
“Our goal is to have 50 in the new center and we’re hoping to have a waiting list,” Owens said. “So lots of interest, lots of big ideas and some graduations too, which has been really exciting.”
During Thursday’s ceremony, Holland Mayor Nathan Bocks said the project fits into other updates happening throughout that part of downtown. Part of College Avenue along the site’s location is torn up as crews add more heated streets and sidewalks for snow melt in the winter.
The location is also near the site of Holland’s future ice rink.
“We believe, in the city of Holland, that public investment in infrastructure can be a catalyst to private investment and development. We knew that this neighborhood needed to be catalyzed a little bit, and it’s all starting to come true,” he said.
Bocks shared how three decades ago he was a small business owner working in an office above what is now Butch’s in downtown Holland.
“I was able to grow, and I was able to interact with the other people on that floor because we were together, but importantly, because we were downtown. We were in the heart of what was going on, the heart of this community,” he said. “I think it is so exciting and so important that the Next Center is going to be that next chapter for the development of the city of Holland. We’ve always been a community of big dreams, big plans and we’ve always had the willingness to do the hard work and invest in our community to get us there. This is going to get us there.”
Construction will take about a year and a half and is expected to be completed before 2025.