The Advancement Foundation hosts Open House at the HIVE

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VINTON–The Advancement Foundation (TAF) hosted a Christmas Party and Gift Auction at the HIVE business incubation center on December 1. The event gave the non-profit organization the opportunity to show off its facility and its entrepreneurs and to raise some funds with the silent auction.

According to TAF, the HIVE (Home of Innovative and Visionary Entrepreneurs) serves as “a launching pad for local businesses and non-profits, bringing over 500 visitors to downtown Vinton” since their ribbon-cutting in August.

The HIVE offers aspiring business owners a professional setting with low overhead, open desks and private offices, a computer lab, an elegant conference room, a shared receptionist and clerical assistance, a physical mailing address, and access to office equipment, high speed Internet and phone systems.

The center is located on Pollard Street in downtown Vinton on the upper level of the Vinton Health Department Building. It is conveniently situated just across the street from the new Vinton Library which also caters to small businesses with meeting rooms, a Makerspace, and small business equipment.

One goal of TAF is to nurture young firms during the period when they are most vulnerable without having to deal with the typical start-up expenses.

In addition, the HIVE offers classes in business development and enterprise and the assistance of mentors from throughout the region. Graduates of the business program are invited to participate in the annual Gauntlet showcase which gives them the opportunity to receive grants and in-kind gifts to launch their businesses. The next Gauntlet is scheduled for early spring 2016.

Annette Patterson, founder and president of TAF, is a firm believer in the theory that if individuals, governments, businesses, and organizations join together to share their talents, knowledge, and resources, almost anything can be accomplished.

“Communities should work together and share their strengths,” said Patterson.  “If everybody brings to the table what they have and can share, then everybody wins.”

The HIVE decorated their Christmas tree with the names of business and community leaders who are mentoring the aspiring entrepreneurs through the business incubation center.
The HIVE decorated their Christmas tree with the names of business and community leaders who are mentoring the aspiring entrepreneurs through the business incubation center.

The upper level of the business incubator building was mostly vacant for several years and dismal in appearance. Patterson recruited a host of individuals with varying skills and resources to renovate the space in a remarkable transformation.

One of the new businesses occupying space at the HIVE is DCS (Discount Computer Systems) owned by Dustin Smith. Smith said he lives in Vinton but was in the process of applying for a business license in Roanoke City last August with plans to locate on Plantation Road. The business permit process in the city was quite lengthy and cumbersome so he decided to obtain a business license in Vinton and work from his home while he awaited approval of his plans by Roanoke City.

Dustin Smith is one of the new entrepreneurs who has established his business in the HIVE business incubation center in downtown Vinton The Advancement Foundation opened the center in August. Smith runs Discount Computer Services from the offices on Pollard Street.
Dustin Smith is one of the new entrepreneurs who has established his business in the HIVE business incubation center in downtown Vinton. The Advancement Foundation opened the center in August. Smith runs Discount Computer Services from the offices on Pollard Street.

An astute employee in the Vinton Planning and Zoning Department where he went to apply for his license mentioned that the HIVE had just opened for business the previous day and described the services they offer. Smith moved in the following day and business is now booming. DCS has become his full-time job.

He offers Mac or PC repairs, tablet, iPhone, iPad, game console, and Smart Phone repairs, hardware and software installation, network installation and support, and surveillance system installation. Clients may drop off their equipment for diagnostics and repair, but onsite repairs are also available.

Diagnostics are free. Windows computer repair costs $45, Apple repairs $70; phone/tablet or game console repairs are $50.

His charge for onsite work is $55/hour. He features flexible pricing on contracted work, and family filter parental control packages. DCS can remove viruses and spyware, remove or reset passwords, and set up wireless Internet and home theater/AV systems.

This is his first business venture. Smith said he bought his first computer at age 14 when he was working at IHOP.  When his system needed repairs that he could not afford, he began to learn how to do the work himself. It became his hobby which with some training then turned into a business.

Smith can be reached at DCS at 540-400-2313.