Midtown Tech Hive: Community + Technology

All my life I have loved cities and strived to understand them. What makes a certain block bustle? Can that historic building be revived? How to connect residents separated by a major thoroughfare? These days I am lucky enough to be thinking about these questions full time as Director of Place at DigitalC. When I am not wrangling my seven month old sons, I spend my days creating welcoming spaces for working and learning in Cleveland’s neighborhoods.

Susan runs a small consulting firm and is a grandmother of three. Bill’s data startup won its first round of seed funding last week. Sylvia, a powerful community organizer, wants to learn digital mapping skills that will really let her flex some muscle. And Marcella hopes to take a class to develop the digital skills that will help her connect to her family in California and her primary care physician in University Circle. What do all of these Cleveland residents have in common? As diverse as their needs are, they will all find a home and resources available to help meet those needs at the Midtown Tech Hive, opening this fall in Cleveland’s Midtown neighborhood.

So what’s a Tech Hive? Well, the idea was born as my  DigitalC colleagues and I began looking at what was happening across the US. Cities leading the tech economy such as Austin, Boston, and Pittsburgh were home to dozens of innovation spaces. However, these spaces tended to serve a specific user base: technology entrepreneurs, social impact firms, or hip creatives. As DigitalC focused its work at the intersection of community and technology, the need for a new type of space began to emerge - a neighborhood-based space which welcomed a range of users from those seeking basic digital literacy to technology professionals. This space would welcome members to work, learn, and collaborate around community and technology.

DigitalC aims to begin to address this need by developing the Midtown Tech Hive located at  6815 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland’s Midtown neighborhood. The Midtown Tech Hive will house Cleveland’s first neighborhood innovation space anchored and operated by DigitalC, an organization dedicated to making Cleveland a thriving hub of innovation and digital inclusion. The Hive will provide vibrant workspace, feature robust 18-hour programming, and a commitment to a diverse user base.

The Hive model includes a full time program manager and a community organizer to ensure robust, varied programming to attract and engage a wide spectrum of users. Programs will include civic tech events, art openings and classes, digital literacy training through DigitalC’s ReStart program, and classes such as data & coding bootcamps, as well as  community meetings and events. Additionally, the space will provide street level retail serving (stay tuned for more details).

So what do the guts of the Midtown Hive actually look like? The Hive will occupy two and a half floors or approximately 13,000 square feet. The first floor features a street level retail space, full time staff to welcome and support community members, a 36 seat classroom,  open desk space (non-reservable), reservable conference spaces, a kitchen, private “phone booths”, and a wellness room. The second floor is home to the open floor plan offices of the anchor tenants, additional conference spaces, and a few reservable coworking spaces. The third floor occupies only half of the floor plate. It includes a variety of reservable work spaces, a kitchenette, and private offices. Monthly coworking costs range from daily passes as low at $8 per day, monthly desk space for $150, to $700 for a private office.

The Hive will not only be a space that creates a welcoming environment  for users such as Susan, Bill, Sylvia, and Sheena. It will also be a physical asset uniting the entire Midtown neighborhood. It’s my hope that the Midtown Tech Hive is at least a partial answer to what makes a block bustle, revives historic buildings, and connects residents. When innovation spaces are active and include a broad range of users with varied interests, backgrounds and skillsets, they become a critical part of the neighborhood ecosystem and support the development of community and the success of surrounding businesses.