HQ Raleigh Building 2016

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#HQHasNews and, no huge surprise here, it's more expansion. This time, 2.5 hours west to Charlotte.

The Raleigh startup hub has inked a deal with Charlotte's Packard Place to rebrand the nearly 90,000-square-foot startup hub as HQ Charlotte at Packard Place and help with its future operations, infrastructure and community-building. The relationship also means a renovation to make the five-year-old space look and function more like HQ Raleigh, and free Uber rides for HQ Raleigh and Charlotte members between locations for events.

It's a different arrangement than HQ forged with HQ Greensboro in 2015. HQ owner Forward Impact becomes an owner in the co-working business alongside Packard Place founders Dan and Sara Roselli. The husband-and-wife team will continue to own the building and operate the popular accelerators QCFinTech and RevTech Labs. They did not respond to a request for comment, and stayed in Charlotte for the announcement Friday evening.

Forward Impact meanwhile, gets to test out its vision of "building the largest entrepreneurial community across the Southeast," says partner Jason WidenIt's already in early conversations with leaders in Charleston, and more cities will be considered over the next three years to create a network of hubs serving more than 900 startups across the Southeast. 

Widen says the growth model won't look HQ Greensboro, where a local entrepreneur and developer started the community from scratch and paid HQ Raleigh fees for infrastructure, procedures and consulting. Nor will it look like WeWork, the New York company that has raised nearly $1 billion from venture capital investors to open 1,000 campuses around the world. 

"Our mission to find high-impact, high-growth entrepreneurs—the Dan Rosellis of the world—and offer something to enhance what they are already doing," Widen says. HQ has changed all of its social media accounts to "HQ Community" to reflect the company's growing footprint.

Packard Place building
Packard Place is a 1920s-era showroom and parking lot located in Uptown Charlotte. It was renovated into a startup campus and coworking space in 2011.
According to HQ director Liz Tracy, conversations between the two hubs started as Packard Place's long-time executive director Adam Hill phased out of his position last summer. Roselli wanted to focus on the accelerators and not the operations of the space, and he hoped to develop more of the community approach that HQ Raleigh has adopted since its founding in 2012. 

HQ's team will work with HQ Charlotte director Chelsea Barrett to integrate its documentation, processes and best practices related to community-building. Conversations are already underway with existing HQ sponsors and partners about the expansion, in hopes of integrating at least some of those relationships in Charlotte as well.

The deal brings HQ Raleigh's total square footage to 123,000 square feet and membership to more than 300 startups. It's all happening as construction is underway on a 43,000-square-foot second HQ location in downtown Raleigh, set to open in 2017.

A soft opening of the newly rebranded space happens next Thursday, and renovations will be complete by early spring.