By Brad Rowland
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” – T.S. Eliot
In August of 2019, we launched the next evolution of FEDC TechSTART, called Emergent Campus. Located in the historic Florence High School building, just blocks from downtown Florence, Emergent was literally 10 times the space of the 8,000 square foot TechSTART community that took over 3 years to build in Canon City. To support such a big project, we brought on a small launch team to help Emergent get up, running, and self-sustaining.
Cassie Miles joined our team to serve as the dedicated Project Support Specialist for Emergent Campus. She oversaw elements of project management, coordinated team meetings, recruited candidates for Second-61 and assisted me in my new role as Emergent Campus’ general manager. During her tenure she created avenues for our success, working through the details of property management, marketing, and client/partnership relations that she executed with the utmost attention. In between meetings with entrepreneurs, state and local leaders, and the rural Colorado VC community, we both plunged quite a few toilets and learned to do the maintenance on a massive, 100 year-old set of buildings.
Over the last year Emergent Campus persevered through it’s second pandemic (the first in 1920) and has continued to grow through these turbid times. As of September, 2020, we have 13 separate businesses operating on campus, and over 10 independent consultants and co-working members. Second-61 has moved into their new enterprise service desk space and we are running a remote office pilot program for an industry leading cloud software company. We even got a great article in Forbes, We Need To Strengthen Rural America If We Want To Unify Our Country. The launch phase would have been a challenge under any circumstances, but I’m super proud of the team for pulling this off during Covid. Your resourcefulness and innovation was matched only by your perseverance and passion. Thanks for not giving up when it felt like the wheels might fall off, and thanks for remembering why we started this project. I know you’ve seen firsthand the positive impact on the students, small businesses, and new entrepreneurial ventures.
Now that our initial ramp up period is complete, the launch team is going back to their “day jobs”, all of which are officed at Emergent Campus Florence or TechSTART Canon City. I’m working in an office at Emergent Campus, Florence, advising several tech companies and growing my consulting practice. Side note, I continue to plunge toilets. Cassie is transitioning to a new role with Visionary Broadband, sister company to Mammoth Networks, where she will continue to sharpen her business acumen. The leadership and community team would like to extend our profound gratitude as Cassie has been an integral part of championing our vision, and assisting in economic development efforts and talent recruitment from Emergent Campus. The position we created for her was not the position we originally imagined or the one she ultimately filled. We have been honored to be a part of her professional journey and look forward to future collaboration with her. She is truly gifted, humble and possesses everything we consider to be excellent. Thank you, Cassie, and best wishes in your new chapter!