Business

Houston Breaks Ground On Innovation District

“The Ion” is a major step towards growing Houston’s innovation culture.

  • Officials, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Rice University President David Leebron, Station Houston CEO Gaby Rowe, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Houston city council members officially break ground on The Ion. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin/Houston Public Media)
    Officials, including Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Rice University President David Leebron, Station Houston CEO Gaby Rowe, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Houston city council members officially break ground on The Ion. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin/Houston Public Media)
  • Rice University President David Leebron speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for The Ion, while Rice Management Co. President Allison Thacker, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Station Houston CEO Gaby Rowe wait their turn. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin/Houston Public Media)
    Rice University President David Leebron speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for The Ion, while Rice Management Co. President Allison Thacker, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Station Houston CEO Gaby Rowe wait their turn. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin/Houston Public Media)
  • Mayor Sylvester Turner said he wants Houston to be "the best technological city of innovation of anywhere in the globe." (Photo Credit: Florian Martin/Houston Public Media)
    Mayor Sylvester Turner said he wants Houston to be "the best technological city of innovation of anywhere in the globe." (Photo Credit: Florian Martin/Houston Public Media)
  • The iconic Sears building on Main Street closed its doors after 79 years in early 2018. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin/Houston Public Media)
    The iconic Sears building on Main Street closed its doors after 79 years in early 2018. (Photo Credit: Florian Martin/Houston Public Media)
  • Rendering of the future "Ion" in Midtown. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rice University)
    Rendering of the future "Ion" in Midtown. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rice University)

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Officials broke ground Friday on "The Ion," a much-hyped innovation hub in Midtown.

The former Sears building will be the heart of Houston's innovation district, which is meant to connect entrepreneurs with venture capital in an effort to place Houston on the map for tech innovation.

Mayor Sylvester Turner said it's not just meant for the Midtown area and business community.

"We're building it for the talent that exists in neighborhoods all across our city," he said. "Saying to people of our city: If you have the talent, we are providing the mechanisms and the venues that we are going to sew into your talent and allow you to go beyond the stars."

The programming at The Ion will be managed by tech incubator Station Houston. Its CEO Gaby Rowe said it's a giant step in the city's effort to catch up to Silicon Valley and the East Coast.

"We have all the raw material to be equal to those two coasts and we believe that this project, The Ion, the innovation district, the broader corridor, will be essential to making that a reality,” Rowe said.

The groundbreaking ceremony drew dozens of people. It was held outside the historic Sears building, which closed last year.

The building will not be torn down, but rather remodeled to include shared office space, conference rooms and a green plaza outside.

The Ion is scheduled to open late next year.

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