NewsPress Release: 10/30/00Marlboro College Announces Technology Center
BRATTLEBORO, VT Marlboro College announces the acquisition of the Holstein Association building in downtown Brattleboro and invites the public to a special event at 2 p.m. on October 30 to rename the building the Marlboro College Technology Center. Governor Howard Dean, U.S. Senator James Jeffords, and Marlboro president Paul LeBlanc will speak briefly at the official opening of the center, which will serve as a regional headquarters for technology, education and economic development.
According to LeBlanc, technology-oriented businesses are lining up for space in the high-tech building, and a federal grant will help develop an incubator for technology businesses. "The Marlboro College Technology Center will be a synergy of state-of-the-art technology and a rich educational environment. We hope that the Center will help spark economic revitalization in and around Brattleboro," says LeBlanc.
LeBlanc points out that the economic development aspect of the project attracted Jeffords' interest in the project. As a result of Jeffords' help in Washington, D.C., Marlboro is scheduled to receive half a million dollars to help develop the Technology Center's infrastructure. Says Jeffords, "I am pleased that these federal funds will help downtown Brattleboro plug into the Internet. This technology incubator project represents a wonderful opportunity to bring together students, established companies and start-ups in a way that will provide jobs and economic vitality to Brattleboro and Windham County."
The federal grant will assist Marlboro in making improvements to the building's infrastructure, as well as providing general support, bringing personnel on board, and offering community programming through the Center. "The funding will help us to stay nimble and flexible to accommodate future needs of tenants and to keep pace with technology," says LeBlanc. He anticipates the Technology Center will be the most technology-rich, state-of-the-art office building in Vermont.
Supporting Marlboro College's outreach is a key ingredient to Vermont's economic success, says Vermont Governor Howard Dean. "What Marlboro College is promoting here is the kind of clean and innovative industry that Vermont wants to help stay in the forefront of economic development."
Marlboro College, founded in 1946 in nearby Marlboro, Vermont, is a small institution with a tradition of innovation in liberal arts education. In 1998, LeBlanc founded The Persons School of Marlboro College, a first-of-its-kind program offering master's degrees in Internet strategy management and teaching with Internet technologies. With just over 20 students in its first class, The Persons School currently has an enrollment of 99 students and last year added a program in Internet engineering.
The rapid growth of technology and e-commerce businesses nationwide and the corresponding shortage of skilled personnel makes The Persons School a tremendous resource. That's why LeBlanc and Marlboro are again taking an innovative step, this time by establishing an incubator for new technology businesses.
"The fact that a small liberal arts college is promoting the development of new businesses is unusual, but it is also a logical move," says LeBlanc. "The presence of our expert faculty and the influx of new graduates, combined with Brattleboro's progressive culture, make Brattleboro a great place to be if you're a new technology business."
LeBlanc adds that Marlboro College is looking forward to exploring avenues of collaboration with Village Ventures, Inc., the Williamstown, Massachusetts, based company that is building and managing a network of early-stage venture capital funds in markets underserved by traditional venture capital resources. The founders of Village Ventures, chief executive officer Matt Harris and chairman Bo Peabody, are two of the key figures in the widely heralded revitalization of North Adams, Massachusetts, and the growth of multimedia businesses around its Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, or MASS MoCA.
"When we look for new areas in which to invest, the importance of a having talented high-skilled personnel of the kind the Persons School is producing isn't just number one on our list. It's also second and third," says Cairn Cross, managing director of Village Ventures' Vermont fund. "The marriage of quality educational institutions and local venture capital is one of the main reasons Village Ventures established an affiliate in Vermont," he adds. "We are extremely excited about the Technology Center, the possibilities for growing the technology industry in southern Vermont, and synergies that come from bringing together education, entrepreneurship, and technology resources."
Jaye Muller is one entrepreneur who has found several reasons to locate his new business in the Marlboro College Technology Center. Muller, 28, already has one e-business success story under his belt, with j2 Global Communications (formerly JFAX.COM). Muller founded the business in 1995 on the idea of offering consumers a "unified messaging" system to receive their voicemail and faxes along with their email.
As he prepares to announce a new venture, Boardrush, that will use on-line technologies, Muller sees Brattleboro as a perfect springboard. To the expert personnel produced by the Persons School and Marlboro's spirit of innovation, Muller says, "Add the area's high quality of life and the state's commitment to human rights, and this was a very easy decision for us."
The pioneer tenant in the Marlboro College Technology Center, Diana Bander Associates, Inc. (DBA, Inc.) moved into their new home in July. Having operated in the Boston area since the company's inception in 1987, Diana Bander, president and C.E.O., sees the Center and its opportunities for technology growth in the region and state as a powerful economic incentive and marketplace for her firm. The firm's specialty is supporting emerging companies with the potential for rapid growth to achieve excellence in their operations.
DBA looks forward to applying its breadth of expertise in finance, strategy, technology support and business process to both start-ups and well-established organizations throughout this region. "We are thrilled to be part of this exciting launch and welcome the Technology Center and all that it provides to this region," says Bander.
Websound, Inc., is another technology-oriented business that has already located in the Technology Center. Websound creates and delivers branded Internet radio to e-commerce and lifestyle-oriented websites. For instance, visitors to Eddie Bauer's website (www.eddiebauer.com) can listen while they shop and work at their computer to music programmed and delivered by Websound for Eddie Bauer. This service improves the "stickiness" of a website, and provides a solution to Internet users looking for a high-quality online source of licensed music.
President Billy Straus of Websound cites reasons similar to Muller and Cross to be attracted to Brattleboro. "There is a great quality of life, space is affordable, and there are many talented people who can fill the jobs created by these businesses," says Straus. "We hope to create substantive job opportunities and to contribute directly to keeping downtown Brattleboro vibrant."
Open to the public, the October 30 opening ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. in the Marlboro College Technology Center, 28 Vernon Street, Brattleboro, which is fully accessible. For more information, please call (802) 257-4333 or visit the college online at www.marlboro.edu.