The next stage of the potentially profitable partnership between the town of Warrenton and the Research Triangle Foundation will begin on July 1, when the second Frontier Warren building opens on S. Main Street.
Collectively, this business incubator contains office space for 10 companies — such as its anchor tenant Frontier Gas, which moved in March 1 and occupies three of the 10 offices — Taber Investments, Panda Bamboo Management and Consulting owner Robert Steverson, and CC’s Showers of Distinction in a rent-free space — along with a meeting room, kitchen, open meeting and co-working space.
Office space in the front of the first building has also been allocated for NC Works, which will conduct programs for teenagers and adults trying to enter or renter the job market.
With plans in motion since November 2019 when a five-year partnership plan was put in place, Frontier Warren is on a mission to increase essential economic development in the town and county by encouraging entrepreneurship on Main Street and beyond. This additional space will enhance the organization’s presence and purpose in the heart of historic Warrenton; and, hopefully inspire citizens to ask not only what Warren County can do for them, but what they can do for Warren County.
Pride of ownership
Both buildings are owned by Al Fleming and rent for $1,500. Each of which were fully renovated. The rent for the first building is paid for by the businesses, while the cost to rent the second is financed by funds from the Town of Warrenton and Warren County. Donations from private companies and individuals will be used to purchase furniture, host events and build an outdoor deck and event space behind both buildings to promote socializing and networking.
The Warrenton Town Board voted to approve a financial commitment of $5,000 annually, and for the town to act as a pass-through for donations, lease receipts and payments, accounts payable and accounting.
The annual financial commitment sought from Warren County government was $20,000.
Following months of discussion, the Warren County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously in March to approve a plan to provide $10,000 annually for FY 2020-21 and 2021-22 to support the Frontier Warren entrepreneurial project.
Those who made it happen
Thanks to the initiative and innovation of local and regional leadership — namely Warrenton Town Administrator Robert Davie and Economic Development Director Stacy Woodhouse, in partnership with Scott Levitan, president and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation (RTF) — this undertaking has the support and momentum to expand opportunities across the county. Kristie VanAuken, former vice president of the RTF, also played an integral part in getting this deal done.
If all goes as planned, Frontier Warren will build on the excellent reputation of all involved and make a real impact on the region.
“This is a historic event and the first partnership of its kind in the 60-year history of RTP,” Woodhouse said back in November 2019 when the Warrenton Town Board unanimously approved the plan.
Woodhouse and Davie pitched the partnership to the Research Triangle Foundation, which oversees RTP. The Research Triangle Foundation board of directors also voted to approve an agreement for Frontier Warren earlier in November of 2019.
Levitan said that trying this experiment in Warrenton and Warren County extends the benefits of having RTP in the state.
“I think it’s a really good idea,” he said at the time.
Referring to their respective real estate and technical backgrounds, Levitan called Woodhouse and Davie the best economic developer and town manager any place could have.
“The mission of Frontier Warren is to create vibrant environments for businesses to develop and grow in Warren County,” Davie said. “To link its citizens with some of the most influential organizations in the region, nation and world which are located in RTP, while at the same time positioning Warren County as the leader in development of rural entrepreneurs.”
Back in February, Woodhouse said he was already in conversation with Norlina commissioners about working with landowners to have them be part of the next move forward, and talked with the RTP leaders about lending their brand to different municipalities.
“I hope to have every corner of Warren County, if they have enough businesses to do it, to have a Frontier Warren,” he said. “I want us, when people think of rural entrepreneurs, to think of Warren County.”