Business Center History
The Franklin Business Center is a historic building, built in 1907. This sturdy 40,000 sq. ft. structure has 18-inch thick brick exterior walls, a metal roof, and pine floors. Massive pine columns support each of the four floors. The building was originally constructed to manufacture buggies and surreys, and this business thrived until the popularity of the automobile stalled sales.
The buggy factory closed and the building was sold around 1916. The new owner began manufacturing screen doors and windows in the facility, but later moved that business to Suffolk.
A few years later, Pretlow Peanut Company bought the building, and for decades it was used as a peanut warehouse.
The Franklin Business Incubator project was born from a discussion between the Federal Economic Development Administration (FEDA) and the Franklin-Southampton Economic Development Commission in an effort to revitalize the community following the flood in 1999. Over two million dollars in funding was subsequently awarded from the EDA, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance, and Community Development Block Grant. These grants have allowed the City to bring this important economic development project to fruition.
With the transformation of the facility just over half finished, the incubator celebrated its grand opening on May 23, 2005. At that time, the business incubator housed only four businesses.
With the transformation of the facility just over half finished, the incubator celebrated its grand opening on May 23, 2005. At that time, the business incubator housed only four businesses. By Spring of 2008, however, that portion of the building that had been completed was 100% occupied and there was a waiting list for five additional businesses. Subsequent grants in the amount of $656,868 from the United States Department of Agriculture and the Community Development Block Grant – Recovery Funds allowed the project to finally be completed in 2011.
The Franklin Business Incubator was renamed the Franklin Business Center in 2016 after a unanimous vote by Franklin City Council Members. A new name, logo and tagline were united establish the new brand of the Franklin Business Center.