TYPROS INCUBATOR: At the ribbon cutting of the Forge are, from left, Rose Washington, executive director, Tulsa Economic Development Corporation; Brian Paschal, executive director, The Forge and TYPros; Amie Roberg, owner, Castlecom LLC; Mark Smith, chair, The Forge advisory board, CEO, ChartMark Investments, Inc.; Karisha Wagoner, vice president, private banking officer, Arvest Bank; Becky Frank, Schnake Turnbo Frank; Mayor Bartlett.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
The Forge, a small business incubator created by Tulsa’s Young Professionals (ros), opened its new and permanent location in the Wright Building downtown on Sept. 27.
The organization received a federal grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Develop-ment Administration to renovate the location on the corner of 2nd and Cheyenne. The Forge’s previous home was at One Technology Center.
The new space offers an urban style and expanded business services. It can host seven businesses at once, with co-working space for up to 25 people. Entrepreneurs can use the spaces to network with like-minded tenants and exchange ideas. Tenants have 24-hour access to their office space as well as core services including utilities, phone and Internet access, and office supplies.
The move comes in unison with a new partnership with the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation (), which shares the location with The Forge.
is a direct lending program that focuses on promoting and sustaining local small business growth. Also available on site is a full-time representative from the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center (OSBDC), the state’s most comprehensive business assistance network.
“Through our partnership with The Forge and the Oklahoma Small Business Development Center, we are combining a variety of support and resources into one location,” says Executive Director Rose Washington. “The goal is to connect aspiring entrepreneurs with all of the guidance and resources they need to start, grow and succeed in the business world.”
The Forge creators hope that the combination of resources in one location will create an entrepreneurial hub that will positively impact economic development in the region.
City leaders anticipate that The Forge will help to create jobs and attract and retain creative, innovative individuals.
“The city of Tulsa believes in growing our economy from within,” says Mayor Dewey Bartlett. “We know that sometimes, the best business plans are those jotted down on restaurant napkins. We also know that oftentimes, small businesses need help and guidance in order to succeed.”
In addition to resources provided by and OSBDC, tenants also receive a free one-year membership to the Tulsa Chamber, a resource that Dixie Agostino, founder of Switchgear Search and Recruiting, says helped her to establish the legitimacy of her business. “As a chamber member, you have access to market research and a network of mentors and small business owners who have faced the challenges of starting a company,” she says.
Switchgear joined The Forge last year and continues to experience growing success. According to Agostino, in 18 months, the venture has added one part-time and five full-time employees. This growth has allowed Switchgear to establish itself independently from The Forge. The company remained in One Technology Center when The Forge relocated.
As some businesses establish success, new tenants arrive with fresh ideas, ready to be forged into formidable businesses. Gina Bradford, founder of Bradford Technology Services and The Forge’s newest tenant, states: “I am thrilled to be joining The Forge right on the cusp of opening its great new space. With all of the resources that The Forge provides, I’m confident I’ll be able to expand my company’s services and further develop a client base.”
The Forge is currently looking for additional tenants to join Bradford and others in the new space. There are currently five tenant openings, as well as openings for co-working space. “With the new space, we have plenty of room. We hope more entrepreneurs will take advantage of all the great resources we’ve combined here,” Paschal says.
Those interested in applying to become a Forge tenant can find more information and an application on The Forge’s website: TheForge-Tulsa.com.