When Dave Gray announced the dissolution of the Biso Collective partnership with EBSCO, we wondered what was going to happen to that gorgeous building on 1st Avenue North. This morning, we talked with Nathan Bouknight and David Hobbs of EBSCO Capital to get the scoop. Here’s what we learned.
EBSCO Capital has set up shop in the building + others are using it as a cool place to work
Love how cool this space is. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)
ICYMI, we’re talking about the former EBSCO Engineering Building located at 1301 1st Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203.
Currently, there are five people from EBSCO Capital working there, and 12-15 others calling the building home. Over time, Bouknight and Hobbs expect to see that number grow to dozens, including employees from many parts of EBSCO, including:
- human resources
The employees who are working there really enjoy the space and the surrounding area, which is across the street from Innovation Depot and is close to Railroad Park, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA) and local lunch spots like Dos Hermanos.
What is EBSCO Capital?
EBSCO Capital is the company’s external investment arm that invests in operating companies and real estate—locally and nationally.
Their mandate is to take EBSCO’s resources and find new businesses and opportunities to invest in that will perpetuate the business.
Bouknight and Hobbs explained that growth through acquisition has been woven deeply into the DNA of EBSCO for decades—since at least the 1970s.
Hobbs credits the Stephens family for their willingness to continue to “reinvent the business and invest for the long term.”
- Expanding the company’s biggest business, EBSCO Information Services, through database acquisitions.
- Buying a piece of property on the Gulf Coast of Florida in the 1970s, sitting on it, then developing it into Alys Beach in 2004.
Returning to EBSCO’s roots
EBSCO’s former HQ. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)
Turns out, the Engineering Building has been owned by EBSCO for decades. In fact, it sits caddy corner to EBSCO’s original headquarters. While the HQ building is no longer owned by the company, it’s where they were located before moving down 280.
A gradual migration from 280 to downtown + a portal to the community
Biso started renovating the building before the pandemic, and then COVID turned everyone’s plans upside down. While some people thrived working at home, we all know people who need to go into an office to feel right and get their work done.
A number of people within EBSCO, including EBSCO Capital, realized there was a cool building downtown where they could go work and feel connected to the community. It was fun and closer to home for a number of people who preferred to work there rather than driving down 280 or working from home.
In fact, part of the original, pre-pandemic vision of the building was as a place for EBSCO to hold off-campus meetings in a hip space.
While Biso was in the building, Dave Gray did a lot to open up the building to the community, and that tradition is continuing.
“We’ve had gatherings of various investment industry associations and an Auburn business alumni event—it’s been a hub of activity and various people have brought in other external groups.”Bouknight and Hobbs
Right in the heart of Birmingham’s Innovation District
“This is a chance for EBSCO to participate in what’s going on in the Innovation District in a way that’s fun—it feels good to invest in businesses that are growing every day in our community. When those businesses do well and grow, it brings jobs and excitement to the community. Then having a physical place at the heart of all that makes you feel much more connected to what’s happening.”Bouknight and Hobbs
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This story was written in collaboration with Pat Byington.