Unique facility will serve entrepreneurs and their families

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The next step in the evolution of working will make its debut next summer at Nocatee Town Center.

On Thursday, June 25, Wired2Perform founder and CEO Raghu Misra hosted a ceremony to mark the commencement of The Link, a coworking space and innovation incubator that follows a new concept in balancing career, family and recreation.

On the surface, The Link will be a 22,500-square-foot hub for tech entrepreneurs to launch their companies and then flourish. But the emphasis on lifestyle, energy conservation and the health and safety of its occupants sets the enterprise apart from other commercial sites.

One thing it is not, Misra said, is a real estate venture.

“The moment somebody says, ‘What is the cost per square foot?’ I feel like hanging up, because that’s not the business that I’m in,” he explained.

In fact, the $7 million project’s uniqueness actually hindered Misra’s ability to acquire funding. The banks he approached were interested in one thing: Has this type of project worked elsewhere?

“I said, ‘That’s not me, because if it is working somewhere else, what’s the point in doing it?’” Misra said.

Eventually, he did get the funding he needed through 121 Financial Credit Union of Jacksonville.

The Link will offer entrepreneurs not only a place to start and grow their businesses, but also a place for their children to engage in recreational and educational activities. An activities director will tailor activities to whatever the members want.

That idea came to Misra at a time when he and wife Gurpreet were driving their son half an hour each way to his taekwondo lessons. During the hour-long class, the Misras waited in the car updating their Facebook pages.

“I felt it was silly for wasting two hours of our time,” Raghu Misra said.

He wanted a way to reduce the two hours to one and to make that one more valuable.

For members, The Link will mean an end to this kind of unnecessary commuting.

“We wanted to find one place where we could do everything for a family, and everything a family needs to learn, play, think and do,” Misra explained to those gathered for Thursday’s presentation, which was held at Treylor Park Restaurant adjacent to the Link site.

The building itself will be something of a marvel.

It will employ the latest strategies and special sensors to hold its energy use to as near net-zero as possible.

In addition, technology will benefit occupants’ health and security.

Robots will sanitize surfaces against contagions like COVID-19. A high efficiency particulate air system will mean a healthier interior environment. Also, the building will use contact tracing technology to keep occupants abreast of potential vectors of infection. Should a security issue arise, the building will contact authorities immediately.

Isabelle Renault, president and CEO of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, predicted that The Link would be “one of the best places to work in our area.”

The project has been in the works since 2018. Misra said he hopes construction will begin within a couple of weeks. A number of companies have already inquired about possible membership.

“I want this to be a life-changer for everyone from the amount of positivity that, hopefully, this will bring,” said Misra.

PHOTO CUTLINES:

GROUNDBREAKING

A ceremonial ‘first dig’ was held Thursday, June 25, at the future site of The Link. From left are 121 Financial Credit Union Vice President of Business Services Peter Hayes, St. Johns County Commissioner James Johns, Gurpreet Misra, St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Isabelle Renault, Wired2Perform founder and CEO Raghu Misra, Matt Taylor of the project’s general contractor The Angelo Group, state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson and architect Mike Koppenhafer.

RENDERINGS

Entrepreneur Raghu Misra refers to artistic renderings of The Link during a presentation Thursday, June 25, at Treylor Park Restaurant.

LINKS

A “linking ceremony” symbolizes the elements that people are bringing to a unique facility planned for Nocatee Town Center, The Link.

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