Franklin Business Center

The Franklin Business Center is a four-story, 40,000 square-foot, fully renovated, and restored mixed-use incubator located in Historic Downtown Franklin. The building houses office space, support staff, and programs that nurture young firms and expanding businesses. Designed to assist businesses during their first few years of operation, the incubator program builds resilience through self-sustainability. The Franklin Business Center also provides hands-on management assistance, access to equipment, and exposure to critical business and technical support services under one roof.

History

Buggies and Surreys

The Franklin Business Center is a historic building, built in 1907. This sturdy 40,000 sq. ft. structure has 18-inch thick brick exterior walls, a metal roof, and pine floors. Massive pine columns support each of the four floors. The building was originally constructed to manufacture buggies and surreys, and this business thrived until the popularity of the automobile stalled sales.

1907

Buggies and Surreys

Screen Doors and Windows

The buggy factory closed, and the building was sold to National Screen Company Incorporated around 1916. The company began manufacturing screen doors and windows in the facility but later moved that business to Suffolk.

1916

Screen Doors and Windows

Birdsong Peanuts’ Warehouse

A few years later, Pretlow Peanut Company bought the building, and for decades it was used as a peanut warehouse.

1950s

Birdsong Peanuts’ Warehouse

Acquired by City of Franklin

The City of Franklin acquired the building and continued to be used for storage.

1985

Acquired by City of Franklin

Franklin Business Incubator was born

The Franklin Business Incubator project was born from a discussion between the Federal Economic Development Administration (FEDA) and the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Commission to revitalize the community following the flood in 1999. Over two million dollars in funding was subsequently awarded from the EDA, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance, and the Community Development Block Grant. These grants have allowed the City to bring this important economic development project to fruition.

1999

Franklin Business Incubator was born

Franklin Business Incubator Buildout Began

Renovation and construction of the Franklin Business Incubator began from funding awarded by EDA and the Community Development Block Grant.

2004

Franklin Business Incubator Buildout Began

Completion and Grand Opening

With the transformation of the facility just over half-finished, the incubator celebrated its grand opening on May 23, 2005, and housed only four businesses. By Spring of 2008, however, that portion of the building that had been completed was 100% occupied and there was a waiting list for five additional businesses. Subsequent grants for $656,868 from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Community Development Block Grant – Recovery Funds allowed the project to be completed in 2011.

2011

Completion and Grand Opening

Incubator Reimagined

The Franklin Business Incubator was renamed the Franklin Business Center in 2016 after a unanimous vote by Franklin City Council Members. A new name, logo, and tagline were created to establish the new brand of the Franklin Business Center.

2016

Incubator Reimagined

2024 Franklin Business Center Advisory Board

Crystal Butler

Chairman

Lynn Powell

Vice Chairman

Brian Hedgepeth

Teresa Beale

Randolph Cook

Darlene Basham

Toni Johnson

Patty Rhodes

Ray Smith

Robert White

Joseph Woltmann