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LIGHTNING EDITORIAL: Biz611 could ignite job growth

On the front page of the July 4 Hendersonville Lightning we told the story of Jonathan Butler and his plans to build a business incubator on the Landmark property on Church Street at Sixth Avenue.

Stayed tuned: This is one of the most exciting and promising developments to occur in Hendersonville in a long time. Given Butler's ambition, energy and track record in software development and his newer passion for sustainable building, the impact of his Biz611 project could reach far beyond Hendersonville and the county.
A programmer since he was a teenager, Butler helped develop the computer program that revolutionized stock market trading. He and his partners sold the Automated Trading Desk to Citibank for $600 million.
The partnership of Butler and Ken Gaylord makes the perfect team for the project, which will use green building techniques and will create a work environment unlike anything that exists in the mountains here.
"In the rapidly shifting economy there are winners and losers and a project like Biz611 puts Hendersonville on the map to definitely be a winner," says Gaylord, who has built his architectural career on sustainable building and tailored his Black Hawk construction business to that goal.
"Most towns are bumping along trying to maintain the tax base they have. If you've got something going on that doesn't exist anywhere else in Western North Carolina, including Asheville, you will not only draw talented people but the businesses could be creating jobs for people that live here, good jobs."
The number of jobs at Biz611 may be small compared to those at the Sierra Nevada brewery. But the  work in the new building is only part of the story. His experience as a participant and promoter of the highly successful Charleston Digital Corridor gives Butler the credentials for success here. In Charleston, the incubators known as Flagship I and Flagship II have not only provided a home to software entrepreneurs. They have helped spin off more jobs and lured new companies.
One thing you don't hear from Butler is a lot of babble about public-private partnerships. He is using his own capital (generated in the ultimate capitalist money game) to help young companies that have the same drive and creativity that he had when he and his partners built the Automated Trading Desk and reinvented Wall Street trading.
"What sets this apart from other incubator projects," said Andrew Tate, CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, "is that Jonathan brings to the project his own entrepreneurial experience and the capacity to coach and assist these folks, and he investing in those companies through this incubator project."
The two-story Biz611 will begin rising from the ground in a matter of weeks, and with it will come an exciting new chapter for Hendersonville and the surrounding area.