Small town, big dream: Transforming Lehigh Valley into the next startup hub

Former steel mill now helps small businesses grow quickly

Factory Managing Partner Richard Thompson discusses how

It used to churn out steel and now it produces big ideas.

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“Factory,” a former World War II steel mill in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, is a 40,000 square foot innovation facility, operating as a new business incubator that invests in the growth of smaller companies.

The entrepreneur led business incubator has created more than $3 billion in enterprise value among three businesses — including “The Meow Mix Company.”

Managing partner Rich Thompson told FOX Business’ Connell McShane that Factory invests in companies that generates at least two million in sales.

“This is not where we start companies from scratch,” he said on Monday. “This is two million to 20 million in sales. So when we find a company that meets our criteria. We love entrepreneurs so we want to understand a good entrepreneur, does it taste good, scale up, does it have margins.”

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Thompson said he was inspired by the innovation hubs in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas when he decided to help small businesses grow quickly in the Southern Bethlehem region of Pennsylvania.

“If you look at building behind us, we turned this old 1940s steel building into this innovation center. The idea if you move here. We have all the services,” he said. “We have 20 or 25 companies in this building. You have this environment of all these entrepreneurs working together.”

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He said however, “When we invest in them, wherever they are in the world they have to move to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, live here in the Lehigh Valley.”

Factory is comprised of four companies that could eventually grow into a campus of 20-25 companies in in the next year and year and a half, according to Thompson.

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