The final touches are coming together for the grand opening of the Nextec building in the Switch district. Conveniently located a block away from the Innovation Depot, graduates from the Depot have a place to go after successfully launching their business off the ground, and other entrepreneurs can be around this energy. Here are a few facts to answer your questions about the innovation district.
What is The Switch?
The Switch is an innovation district located in downtown Birmingham. It’s a place designed to help startups thrive in the Magic City while fueling a vibrant innovation-based ecosystem.
Building off the momentum initiated by Innovation Depot, The Switch includes the blocks immediately around the startup incubator and moves outward from there. The Switch is a place for innovators and startups to go – both physically and digitally – for information, resources, and community.
Why is it called The Switch?
“The name ‘The Switch’ has layered meaning for this district,” said David Fleming, REV Birmingham President and CEO. “The blocks around Innovation Depot originally came to life as a railroad switchyard, and the oldest buildings still trace the curve of the former tracks. In a modern sense, the “switch” is important to technological advancement.
What's happening at the Innovation Depot?The Innovation Depot is one of the largest technology incubators in the country, which has established itself as Birmingham’s community for innovation and entrepreneurship. The Switch draws on this energy and creates a path to expand economic opportunities and growth beyond the walls of the Innovation Depot. These are just a few of the companies based out of the depot currently:
What's outside the depot?
You can find a wide range of businesses in the district. From restaurants to headquarters offices, The Switch is home to a variety of local businesses. You can find Spire Alabama Metro Operations Center, Pack Health, Spiffy Staging and Design, Redemptive Cycles, Roots and Revelry, and even close-by residential lofts.
Besides the Depot, what's happening in the district?
Nextec is the redevelopment of a recently acquired 65,000-square-foot Edwards Motor Company Building (formally known as the Sticks ‘N’ Stuff building) located at 1531 3rd Ave. North. Michael Mouron, chairman of Capstone Real Estate Investments, began this redevelopment project in 2021 as a space for business startups to continue their work in Birmingham. The building will include a collaboration area, flexible workspace. Thanks to Alabama Historic Tax Credits and support from the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County, The Nextec building serves the Innovation District as a second step to graduating businesses from the Innovation Depot and for other tech-related businesses.
What impact will Nextec have on the city?
The building is expected to generate over 300 jobs in the next seven years and has already recruited businesses like Tquila Automation, an intelligent automation specialist. The historical value of the building was saved and repurposed to provide startups with a home and generate income in the city and the innovation district as a whole.
“We are committed to supporting community redevelopment and strengthening our small businesses. This project does both,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin. “This will be one more feather in the cap of the Fountain Heights community experiencing a rebirth.”
Magic City Match is a program that transforms lives and opens doors for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Led by REV Birmingham and powered by Prosper, this initiative aims to create opportunities for Black-owned businesses by matching them with brick-and-mortar spaces where they can thrive. After a successful pilot program in 2022, Magic City Match is back in action and ready to empower a new wave of entrepreneurs.
One of the most legendary and storied neighborhoods of Birmingham is Woodlawn. It is a community, anchored by one of the great public high schools of Birmingham, that has produced many citizens who contributed to the life of our city and has had an impact beyond the neighborhood itself. In a short post like this true justice cannot be done to the rich heritage and legacy of Woodlawn. However, we hope that this narrative brings together many of the diverse threads that make up the fabric of the community’s historic arc in a concise piece.
Woof, woof! I’ve been having an absolute blast visiting my sister in Downtown Birmingham. I can hardly wait to share all the details with you once you return from your vacation. In the meantime, I wanted to put paw to paper and tell you all about it, with the hope of convincing you that moving Downtown could be the most wonderful decision ever.