The link is ‘a space that inspires’

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The heart of Nocatee is home to a unique facility that, since its founding last year, has proven its value to local businesspeople and the community at large.

The link, founded by Raghu and Gurpreet Misra, defies facile classification. It is a co-working space, an innovation incubator, a membership-based venue where people of all ages can go to “learn, play, think and do” and a community asset that hosts events for the general public.

But most of all, the link is “a space that inspires.”

With its broad variety of classes, camps, activities, educational opportunities and entertainment, it inspires children, teens and adults. So attractive are the benefits, that some people purchase homes to be near it.

“It’s very satisfying when people come and say, ‘Raghu, we moved to Nocatee because of the link,’” said Raghu Misra.

In fact, new residents are finding the link to be a valuable resource as they become acclimated to their new community. This is especially critical because Nocatee is so new that its population is overwhelmingly comprised of people who have relocated.

“What we want to do is see how we as a community can help each other out,” Misra said.

And the family-friendly atmosphere cannot be overstated. It’s common to see adults working at one task while their children are engaged in some other activity — all under one roof. This works to the benefit of families and reduces the time parents spend driving their children to activities all over the area. In fact, keeping a lid on commuting has been a part of the link since its inception.

An eclectic mix

The 22,500-square-foot smart building at 425 Town Plaza Ave. is a wonder in itself. It regulates energy use for maximum efficiency, employs artificial intelligence for security and much more.

The link’s Sapna Academy offers self-directed education for very young students through teenagers. There’s a stage and video wall for TED Talk-style presentations. The Flagler Health+ Immersive Studio, a 360-degree environment that surrounds people with images and videos from around the world, is one of the largest — if not the largest — immersive spaces in the nation. For the professional, there is a variety of office-space solutions, including desks, meeting rooms, virtual office space and a mail service. The link also exhibits select works of art, making it part museum. Visitors will see some of the unique and thought-provoking paintings of Susanne Schuenke and a menagerie of animals — many life-sized — expertly fashioned from recycled flips-flops by artisans in Kenya and provided by Ocean Sole.

The businesses that occupy the link include a tech company contingent: c-suite professionals, contractors, integrators, salespeople. But there are also representatives of other industries: marketing, E-health services, wealth management and more.

Because the link’s clientele is eclectic, the energy in the building is contagious.

When experts representing a cross-section of the business spectrum meet at the Costa Coffee Smart Café on the facility’s ground floor, they are inspired to share their knowledge with others.

“We’ve actually had some fascinating conversations on where the world is going,” said Misra. “This is when innovation happens, when people in the room are coming from completely different perspectives, different industries.”

One of the key elements of the link’s success is its team. Gurpreet Misra is in charge of the programming. Elaine Raby is in charge of member-related experiences, and Jeff Tawney handles building operations and related matters. Though Raghu Misra continues to be involved in the day-to-day issues, he credits the others with making it possible to focus on long-term plans.

“Thanks to how strong the team is, I’m kind of moving more into the strategic side of things,” he said.

Recently, the link introduced new membership levels that offer savings for those who want to take advantage of the many amenities. It is one of several ways the facility has evolved since it was originally proposed.

“We’re still evolving and will continue to evolve,” said Raghu Misra.

The educational link

Another way the link is evolving is in its “Future In ___” series, which introduces audiences to technology that is shaping the careers of the future. Beginning in September, the link will offer daytime sessions so that schools can bring students for special field trips.

Misra sees these presentations as one way to help students see outside their silos, to open up the world of possibilities.

“In this day and age, nobody should say, ‘I did not know any better,’” he said. “Because the information is out there.”

Another idea Misra has involves reaching students who live too far away to attend on-site programming.

With so many members of the next generation interacting with one another and even “attending” concerts via the Metaverse, the link is examining ways it can provide regular, live, interactive content online, perhaps even through a virtual version of the link itself.

In fact, Misra takes the educational component of the link seriously. To that end, he continues to seek ways to benefit the next generation. One idea is to conduct “open mic” sessions where older students can share their academic experiences with younger students. This would also provide middle school students an opportunity to learn firsthand about the many academies offered by the district — directly from students enrolled at those academies.

Another educational idea might include using the Flagler Health+ Immersive Studio to give students virtual tours of real college campuses. This would be especially helpful to those families who have limited resources.

“Not everybody has the luxury to go to every college that they want to apply to,” Misra said.

He also hopes to work out cross-generational gatherings, where young people could interact — and learn from — senior citizens. At the same time, seniors will benefit from these visits.

“They’ll see some kids smiling and enjoying things that, hopefully, will have a positive emotional effect on them,” Misra said.

In fact, the Flagler Health+ Immersive Studio may be used during these visits, as well. The seniors can take the youths on a trip to see where they grew up or went to college or proposed marriage.

“We want to get multiple age groups to interact with each other,” Misra said. “I grew up with my grandparents. Talking to them was phenomenal.”

Coming soon

The link will celebrate its first anniversary on July 15 with a special business expo from 6 to 9 p.m. Area businesses are encouraged to register and reserve a spot where they will have an opportunity to tell the public about their products and services. Misra said he hopes to get 50-60 small businesses to participate, especially those that don’t have a storefront from which to operate.

The expo will be held in conjunction with a family Olympics event from 6 to 8 p.m. featuring the kind of fun games people enjoy at their local fairs. Both are free to attend, though there is a fee for the expo table.

“It will be a true, fun experience,” Misra said. “But the goal is to create one more avenue for the entire family to be together and have fun.”

To book a table at the expo or register to attend, go to thelink.zone/events-1.

With the link’s first year anniversary coming up, a business expo and family Olympics event on the horizon and so many plans for the evolution of the facility, Misra is not standing still.

“It’s going to be busy the next year or two,” he said.

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