A unique coworking and entrepreneurial space called the Gig East Exchange has helped businesses grow in the City of Wilson even during the pandemic, creating 36 jobs through innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Right now, we have all but two of the offices leased out,” said Will Aycock, general manager of Greenlight, which serves as the city’s Gigabit internet provider and manages the Gig East Exchange. “Two of the companies have purchased and renovated buildings in downtown Wilson and will be moving out when their buildings are ready.”
In 2018, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $1,100,000 to the City of Wilson through the Community-Based Grants Initiative that made the Exchange possible. The Golden LEAF investment paid for renovating a city-owned building in downtown Wilson to help attract and retain workers with IT skills in Wilson, spark innovation among Wilson’s current employers, and spur entrepreneurship and innovation across Wilson’s demographic range. Because of that investment, the Exchange came to life and currently offers a cooperative fabrication lab, coworking space, training, and support for innovation.
The Exchange, which opened its doors in Fall 2020, has delayed its official grand opening due to the pandemic and has not yet opened its coworking space. The Exchange provides opportunities for training through various partners, including RIoT (Raleigh Internet of Things). The RIoT Accelerator Program (RAP) is currently offered at the Exchange. The RAP works to support a variety of entrepreneurial activities and is geared to startups at any stage looking to increase the impact of traditional resources through the RIoT ecosystem.