8 Advantages to Forming Your Business in Ro

Choosing the right city for you and your business can be difficult. There are a lot of factors to consider, both personally and professionally. You want to choose somewhere that your business can flourish in the long term, somewhere that offers unique advantages to you, and a place that is the right fit for you and your family. When weighing your options, consider Rome.

1. Best Small City in the Southeast

In the New Rating Guide to Life in America’s Small Cities, Rome ranks as both the Most Livable City and the Best Small City in the Southeast. With just under 100,000 people residing in the county, you’ll find a small town feel, but with plenty of economic development and potential to grow your business.  Stop wasting time sitting in traffic and get to Rome, where you can live and work in the same city!


2. Low Startup Costs

In MakerVillage, you can rent an office for as little as $175 a month. There is over 8,200 square feet available, with the option to choose a unit and office size that best fits your needs. The price of square foot per dollar is well under the average because we’re aware of how challenging it can be to start a business. We want to see you succeed, so we’re covering part of the costs to attract startups to MakerVillage.


3. Friendly Lease Agreements

We don't require a one-year lease. We think that the ability to take risks is what makes entrepreneurship possible. For that reason, we have absorbed the risk that most traditional landlords wouldn't, and we let you commit to as little as three months. You can give yourself time to get that project off the ground, work towards a successful crowdfunding campaign, or experiment without fear that you will owe money if it fails. In the same vein, we do not charge deposits for our startups or run credit checks.  


4. Resources to Help You Succeed

You’ll have access to 7Hills Makerspace, a community workshop located in downtown Rome, where you can access various production equipment and artistic resources. There, you’ll be able to meet artists, engineers, business owners, and students who can help you as you are growing your business.


5. Incredibly Fast Internet

At one gig per second, portions of Rome have internet speeds 100 times faster than the national average. You’ll be able to upload and download files, stream videos and presentations, and conduct business at an unimaginable speed.


6. Quality College Interns

Berry College was ranked by US News as the best up-and-coming liberal arts college in the United States. It has the nation’s premier student work program, in which it pairs local businesses and students together.  As small businesses try to grow, hiring college students can be an ideal option to attract quality employees at a price significantly under market value.


7. Excellent Childcare/Schooling

Floyd County is home to excellent education, with plenty of public and private schools to choose from. Private schools include Berry College’s Elementary School, Saint Mary’s Catholic School, Unity Christian School, Darlington School, and Montessori School of Rome. You can move to Rome with confidence that you’ll be able to find the right school for your child.


8. Ability to Impact Change

In Rome you can be a big fish in a small-but-flourishing pond. Here, you’ll have the ability to impact change and help shape the future of an entire city. The success of your business can help the community grow in a variety of ways. You may be able to hire local employees, become a board member of a local charity, or even help to attract new businesses to Rome. In Rome, city officials want to hear from business owners, so you can provide input on what our city will become.




Shared Spaces and the Bicycle of Economic Development

The city of Drachten in the Netherlands is a ‘shared space’ town, where all public urban spaces are shared by cars, bikes and pedestrians alike, and traffic signs are non-existent. Image courtesy of www.cityinterface.comThere’s a notion of “shared space” that’s really different from what we commonly associate with the term. Best conceived and articulated by Hans Monderman,  an innovative European road traffic engineer, a shared space is the methodical reduction of roadway guidelines as a way to increase safety and vitality of a city street. An engineered shared space may lack curbs, traffic signs, road markings, and speed limits altogether.

Vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians just simply begin to converge through the same passageway or around the same square or circle.  Eliminating hierarchical rules and forcing negotiation between different road users reduces the dominance of motor vehicles and enables all users to, well, share the space.

While this may seem a rather paradoxical design approach, researchers have studied the approach and found that “the introduction of such schemes have had positive effect on road safety, traffic volume, economic vitality, and community cohesion where a user's behaviour becomes influenced and controlled by natural human interactions rather than by artificial regulation” (EU Shared Space Study).

The UK Department for Transport MVA has explored a few explanations for the success of such “traffic bazaars”, noting that "shared space is successful because the perception of risk may be a means or even a prerequisite for increasing objective safety. Because when a situation feels unsafe, people are more alert and there are fewer accidents.” 

Think about it for a minute.  You are driving. Then all of a sudden, you are merging with two other roads into a route around the downtown square, but there are no traffic lights, stop signs, sidewalks, or dashed lines.  You stop driving on autopilot, and you have to start looking directly into the eyes of other drivers to attempt to understand their intention to speed up or slow down.  You naturally reduce your speed. You see every cyclist and mom pushing a stroller.  You become aware of the bustle of life around you. You are in the thick of it.  

While this image might inspire fear, imagine you are the pedestrian!  And it’s that fear of the unknown that causes every participant in the street, including drivers, walkers and bikers, to become socially responsible.  Monderman called this the “risk compensation effect” where the increased shared risk necessarily increases the participation of all involved.

This notion is inspiring to me as I work to build and foster a startup maker community and seek to bring maker principles to bear on building a city economy.  Using the road as a metaphor, it seems the traditional economic development groups are like the semi-trucks and motorized vehicles - they look to bring large loads of inventory requiring labor in and out of the community. They recruit industrial employers to move their operations, support the expansion of existing industry, and look to create incentives for both.  They assume that because of their size, they have the right of way in issues relating to infrastructure, legislation, or resources. And usually they are right.

Bicyclers and walkers are like the small businesses, retail shops, solopreneurs, and start-ups. If they know what’s good for them, they’ll stick to the small streets and stay off the highway. They move slower it seems, and can’t transport as much. They simply don’t have as much power. And generally, everyone follows their prescribed paths trying not to get in each other’s way.

This is not as negative as it sounds. Certainly a path is more enjoyable than a highway on a bicycle. And no one wants to walk in front of a bus.  A shared space by Mondermon’s definition is riskier. But it’s that risk, that uncertainty that actually protects each participant and promotes real interaction between human beings.

Perhaps, like Monderman found with traffic, there are benefits to intentionally creating places where there aren’t prescribed rules and roles within a community development plan. Perhaps there are community-wide benefits to letting the bicycles and the cars of busines ride the same road with no restrictions.

And this, in a way, is what I’m after with Makervillage. I want to give artists, individuals, and small groups who have passion and plans the resources they need to share the street.  This means giving them ways to enter the marketplace without onerous restriction, like subsidized rent and utilities.  It means giving them access to the tools to prototype, produce, and distribute, like machinery, materials, abundant connectivity to the rest of the world, and crowdfunded finance platforms.

And then stepping back and seeing what happens.  

Our one bicycle here and one bicycle there may not seem to represent as much force as a semi-truck on the road of economic development.   But mathematically, ten employers of ten is equal to one employer of a hundred.  I envision swarms of bicycles - dozens of individuals creating companies around new products and ideas and services.  And I see them sharing the road with the semi-trucks of industry and making a mighty impact on the path we travel together as a community. 




Brand Red Studios: Makervillage's First Tenant!


Brand Red Studios, a video production team moves into 108-B. Look for full profile and pictures as they outfit the production studio. 



A few clarifications

We've already begun receiving applications and offers to provide services to our tenants, which is AWESOME! 

However, we've also encountered a few questions and confusions. So, to clarify:


  1. Makervillage is a set of six historic properties on Clocktower hill which are for rent by individuals and businesses seeking to launch a new product, grow, or otherwise, conduct business for profit.
  2. Makervillage itself is a not-for-profit entity functioning as the Master Tenant for all of the properties and subleasing them, providing GigNet connectivity and needed cabling within each space, and working with other utilities to make move-in as easy as possible for a start-up or growing business. 
  3. Makervillage will be owned by the member businesses and individuals paying rent and as such the work that is done as a group will be up to its members. An example: depending on the kinds of businesses that end up moving into Makervillage, they may choose to host a hackathon as a group, offer training to students, advocate for broadband policy, or simply do nothing but co-exist and each pursue their own business growth. 

  4. Submitting an application is the first step to being selected. Makervillage will work directly with selected applicants to obtain additional material needed before a lease is extended. 


Hopefully, this clears up your questions. If there are other questions, please feel free to post them in the comments below and we'll try to get them answered as quickly as possible. 




Tour Makervillage: Open House Friday 2.22 2-3pm

Envision your business as a member of Makervillage. An open house is scheduled for February 22nd from 2-3 p.m following the close of Confluence. 

Drop-in to SAI Digital Headquarters at 412 E. First Street for light refreshments and a map of the Makervillage properties that you can walk through at your own pace. There are five historic properties, each of which can be further subdivided into various office space sizes due to multiple entrances and levels.  

Each property has been made move-in ready, with GigNet internet service ready to plug-in and use,  and is available for tenant-requested enhancements including residential retrofitting.