Shovels are ready to hit the ground on Madison’s east side as the city prepares to welcome its newest entrepreneurial hub: StartingBlock Madison.

The center, a space where Wisconsin innovators can connect and collaborate, will be situated in the 800 block of East Washington Ave. and form part of a larger building known as “The Spark.”

StartingBlock Executive Director Scott Resnick said the company will serve as a place for entrepreneurs from any discipline to find resources, network and guidance.

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“We see [StartingBlock] as a beacon for entrepreneurship in the Midwest,” Resnick said.

Approximately 50,000 sq. ft. of the building will be dedicated to StartingBlock. American Family Insurance will occupy the remaining 100,000 square feet.

Individuals and 80 different corporations, including American Family Insurance and Madison Gas and Electric, raised the $3 million they needed to move forward with the construction.

The city of Madison contributed $1.5 million to the project and the state of Wisconsin gave $752,000. The University of Wisconsin contributed as well.

In a news release, American Family Insurance CEO Jack Salzwedel said his group has embraced StartingBlock as part of a “spirit of innovation” for their customers.

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank added in the release that it represents a “continued advance of entrepreneurialism” in Madison and is testament to the “significant technical and economic innovation” occurring in Wisconsin.

Mayor Paul Soglin also applauded the joint efforts between the public and private sectors involved in the project.

“I look forward to more milestones, continued partnerships and a center for startup activity and innovation,” Soglin said in the release.

Some of StartingBlock’s tenants are organizations that serve other start-up companies such as gener8tor and the Doyenne Group. Gener8tor services the gBeta program, which primarily serves UW college students while the Doyenne Group specifically focuses on women entrepreneurs.

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Heather Wentler, executive director for Doyenne Group, said she expects the organization to grow once they’re in the StartingBlock office space.

Currently, Resnick said they’ve received letters of interest from 27 separate organizations that Resnick hopes they’ll turn into leases.

With the groundbreaking planned for the end of the year, Resnick said he anticipates StartingBlock will open up for occupancy at the beginning of 2018.