From the editor

I know what you’re thinking: “Finally, What’s Up is covering the arena issue!”

Okay, so maybe you’re not, but it was definitely something that I was itching to do. Especially when El Paso Inc. is in the same building and they have a quality reporter who’s been pumping out new info on the issue just about every week.

It was difficult to know where to start because decisions kept flip-flopping. So we thought we’d hear the voices of some people who’ve been firm on their stances of where the arena should be built. If you want to get more in depth about city decisions, I suggest you head on over to ElPasoInc.com (or even better – subscribe to El Paso Inc.).

But on to a more positive topic that deals with the City of El Paso. For the past several years, the city has provided grants to the Hub of Human Innovation. It’s a tech business incubator that also happens to be located at the Union Plaza.

“The strength of our program is our mentor program,” Hub of Human Innovation president and CEO Joe Wardy said. “We probably have about 20 El Pasoans from various disciplines who volunteer to mentor startups.” Mentors include accountants, banking executives and engineers.

But if you simply have a startup pitch and just want to talk about it to see where the idea can lead, there’s something even more inclusive: 1 Million Cups.

A nationwide initiative created by the Kauffman Foundation, it has communities in more than 100 cities gather once a week to hear anyone’s ideas. Two weeks ago, I attended the first Million Cups, which got its name from the fact that free coffee is provided at the gatherings (which have no entrance fee).

It included a presentation from Metropia (pictured above), a transportation app that launched last year. A partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation, Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority and El Paso Metropolitan Planning Organization, its purpose is to help keep us from getting caught in – you guessed it – traffic. The app gets down to the specifics of short-term construction sites and is already available for download.

The other presentation was by a group of UTEP engineering students called Canyoneers. For their “people to products” class, they interviewed nearly 150 hikers to learn about their needs. The result? The idea of a hiking staff that also serves as a selfie stick, GPS system, flashlight and battery charger. The enthusiastic idea was well received, and attendees got the group thinking about creating a patent.

“I didn’t know it was going to be such a momentous event,” Canyoneers member Hugo Rico said. “I didn’t know there was that much support in the community for startups like that. We’re still following up with a lot of people we met who want to help us. It’s pretty exciting.”

If you’re interested in attending the next set of presentations, which add up to an hour total, head to the hub at 500 W. Overland (second floor of the Station Urban Offices) on Wednesday at 9 a.m.

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