Inside the walls of the former Independence Regional Medical Center, new beginnings are still emerging. It has become a place that is fully functional and thriving as an incubator for business in eastern Jackson County.
“The spirit of what we are trying to build is based on the culture from the past,” said Tom Lesnak, President of The Independence Council for Economic Development (ICED). The Independence Regional Ennovation Center is a mixed use business incubator which focuses on three core areas for the development of new businesses: bio-tech, kitchen/culinary, and business and technology.
“When it was a hospital, people were born here, and now that it is a business incubator, businesses are born here,” said Stephanie Zamora, ICED Director of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. The newly rehabilitated building features new technology such as a live 24/7 webcam in the kitchen that can be accessed by visiting dropcam.com/p/ennovation. Business, bio-tech and kitchen incubator programs are available for clients to start or grow their small business. The Ennovation Center is one of more than 1,000 incubators throughout the United States. It is not designed to rent real estate, but to provide clients with the business resources and services that are needed to make small businesses a success.
Sharing the history of the building with others is important to the Economic Development Council. “We gave over 150 tours of the building last year to everyone from former employees to people that were born here,” said Lesnak.
Many alterations have been made to the former hospital; the heart transplant suite is now being used as a bio-tech lab. However, some things never change. Lesnak stated, “The anesthesia room is now our conference room. People still go to sleep in there!”
Former employees are welcome to share their memories. Old photos and stories are welcomed by the Economic Development staff and will be shared on their Facebook page. Send your memories and photos to Stephanie Zamora, firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to take a tour of the renovated building, call (816) 252-5777 to schedule an appointment. For more information on the new Ennovation Center and a listing of current clients, visit www.ennovationcenter.com.
Photo: Current kitchen clients include Hippie Chow Granola. A staff member is pictured above bagging the product at the Ennovation Center.