13 NEWS Features FORGE Grand (Re)Opening Celebration!
The following story was originally published by Andres Rendon for KOLD News 13:
TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Roy Place is celebrating its reopening, discussing ways to create new economic possibilities in the community, and shining light on past partnerships that are still thriving today.
Formerly known as the Montgomery Ward, the University of Arizona took over the building to establish a set location for Finding Opportunities and Resources to Grow Entrepreneurs or FORGE.
The building was planned to open in March 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FORGE at UA was opened online instead. Today, FORGE at Roy Place is open to the community.
“We’ve been operating for the last three years under the idea we can still serve the community; we can still do a lot of the work,” says Brian Ellerman. Ellerman is the founding executive director of FORGE.
“This is our first real opportunity to celebrate all of the things we’ve accomplished. We’ve actually passed already 4,000 entrepreneurs that we’ve worked with already in the past year.”
Partnering with Startup Tucson, a nonprofit aimed to advance economic growth in the community, FORGE at Roy Place allows start-ups to work together and share their ideas.
The founders at GRAV, a gaming innovation start-up, were among some of the companies demonstrating at the opening. They started their journey two years ago in the New Venture Development Program at U of A, and they say that FORGE has helped them tremendously.
“They’ve been a great strategic partner for us,” said Evan Zavitz, GRAV’s marketing director. “They’ve really helped us understand where we’re at in terms of growth of our company and our position, and they have really given us foundational stepping stones to understand how we can get to the next level.”
Other companies like Arizona Luminaria, a non-profit publication providing accessible journalism to Tucson, say that FORGE helps them grow as a business and focus on their stories for readers. Irene McKisson, co-founder and principal executive at Arizona Luminaria, says FORGE has taken away a lot of stress that comes with running a company.
“We just don’t have enough people who can do enough things,” McKisson says. “We’re trying to write stories and edit those stories. We need someone who can help us think about the marketing, the scale, business strategy, things we haven’t thought of.”
“It’s basically like hiring an entire agency to help us on the business side, except they are community members and our partners instead, and it’s been a really rewarding experience.”
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