The Spur Looks East, and to Future
The Spur, a co-working space and entrepreneurial networking group currently located in a temporary space in Southampton Village as its new headquarters are being completed a little over a mile away, has plans to open a satellite location in East Hampton in January, and expects to hear on Dec. 18 about a state grant for as much as $1 million.
The Spur’s management intends to use the grant to continue its goal of transforming and innovating how business is done on the East End.
“We already know we’ll receive at least a half million, but we’re waiting to hear from the state if it will stay at a half million or be the full $1 million we’re eligible to receive,” said Ashley Heather, who launched the Spur last January on the heels of another business he started months earlier called iHamptons. That one is a nonprofit organization that bills itself as “the hub of entrepreneurs in the Hamptons . . . bringing together all the resources needed to launch and build an innovative company” and holds an annual contest modeled after the “Shark Tank” TV show that awards funding to a winning entrepreneur.
Mr. Heather’s previous business accomplishments include developing the popular music app Shazam.
The state grant the Spur anticipates is the largest among seven that are scheduled to be awarded to East End businesses as part of the New York State Regional Economic Development Initiative. The state program is intended to spark job creation and community development projects. That emphasis dovetails with how Mr. Heather describes the mission that drives the Spur.
Mr. Heather said the Spur intends to use the funding it receives to add more staff, cover operational costs, and finish completion of its expanded new workspace and event hub at 630 Hampton Road, where Route 27 and County Road 39 intersect in Southampton. The group hopes to open that permanent home by Memorial Day. Once finished, it will boast expanded co-working and event spaces, a members’ lounge, indoor and outdoor restaurants, a business concierge, a public food market, and bike share, but the same credo: a place built by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs.
As for its East Hampton “spoke,” as Mr. Heather refers to it, the Spur is close to signing a lease for a location just outside the village that he hopes to open in January. There are also plans for satellites in Sag Harbor, Montauk, and Greenport.
“We hope to make an announcement about the East Hampton location in the next week or two,” Mr. Heather said.
The Spur’s successful pitch for the state funding focused on a number of themes.
“What we want to do is turn the East End into more of a business hub — I think that’s the macro message,” Mr. Heather said, noting that most East End businesses are heavily focused on the lifestyle and service industry, agriculture, and seasonal jobs.
“Basically, the business of doing business is not really located here,” Mr. Heather said. “What places like Greenwich [Conn.] and some other areas have managed to do is create fundamental business hubs that make it attractive for businesses to come here, stay here, hire a year-round work force. There are relatively few things like that on the East End right now, and we think that’s the opportunity we’re looking to go after. It can also help to avoid brain drain, which is sort of a secondary issue this area deals with now.”
“People in their early 20s or so tend to move to another city or location because there’s not a lot to keep them here,” Mr. Heather continued. “Bringing the sort of tech and innovation opportunities we’re focusing on could help keep some of those people here, and also attract some to move back who have already moved out. Media, technology, health and wellness, retail, food, drink, and hospitality — those are the core areas we’re focusing innovation around.”
People interested in joining the Spur submit an application, which can be found online at thespur.com. The vetting process, Mr. Heather said, helps the group achieve its goal of remaining a place where innovation and entrepreneurship are fostered and like-minded folks can network and help each other rather than “a membership based on members all selling services to each other.”
“We accept most people, but we don’t accept everybody,” Mr. Heather said. “There is an interview. Personality is obviously a piece of it. But really, it’s more what are you really working on? Are you really working on an innovation business?”
Two tiers of membership are currently offered: A standard membership for $200 a month includes access to the Spur’s workspace and the numerous events the Spur hosts. A “moonlight” membership costs $100 a month and includes access to the Spur starting at 5 p.m. each night.
Members who join between now and the end of the year will avoid the one-time, $2,500 initiation fee the Spur will begin charging Jan. 1, Mr. Heather said.