Greg St. Fort and 100 State
Building the New Economy
|Born and raised in New York, Greg St. Fort became the executive
director of 100 State about 18 months ago.
spaces and private spaces and public spaces. And it all looks very comfortable. One room almost looks like a scene out of Helen C. White
Library with students working on their laptops in an open space and there is always someone around to talk about an idea that one’s work has
“There were some new things that could be accomplished by having more space and by having more space, we could create more access,”
St. Fort said about moving into their new facility. “I was involved with the design of the space. It was a very interesting project. I’m definitely
not going to tell anyone that I’ve been doing that for years, design work. I worked with Strang, Vogel and others in what was going to be the
end product. It was my vision and then I worked with them to make it happen. Wherever there were problems, they leverage their expertise.
‘Hey, this is a better way to do it. If we do that, we’ll end up with these types of results.’ It was a pretty awesome experience. Here we are.”
And as the executive director of 100 State, it is St. Fort’s responsibility that the environment is conducive to intellectual pursuit and that the
right mix of people are present.
“We are figuring out how we can have additional partnerships and run other programs,” St. Fort said. “That’s pretty awesome. It still embodies
my beliefs, Let’s Keep Building. That’s the idea. How do you bring other people together to work on something, working with something to bring
people together? I really believe that you can knock down a lot of barriers by just really creating great work. That’s the thing that can break
through anything, especially entrepreneurships.”
100 State is about the people who are present in the same space, people who have control over how and when they interact in that space, but
the interaction itself is a major reason for being there.
“100 State is a base for different entrepreneurs, problem-solvers, non-profits and creatives,” St. Fort emphasized. “They can all come together
and find a home to work on their ideas. We don’t use the term sole-proprietor. The dialect is different here. In this type of environment, you can
just say, ‘Oh, you’re a freelancer.’ It’s some piece of work that you can handle by yourself. If you’re a graphic designer, you can be a freelancer.
We have people who have TINs. We have some big teams and some small teams. We have incorporated businesses. It’s been pretty awesome
to see people go from a one-person shop and then eventually hiring people to serve an expanding customer base.”
And it’s not about the status of the people who are there. Credentials don’t matter as much as what people bring to the intellectual mix.
“If someone could build a really awesome app, no one really cares about their background,” St. Fort said. “Did you go to school for this?
Technology or entrepreneurship in general is one of the very few things in the world that can break through backgrounds. Either you can do it
or you can’t. If it works well, people don’t care what you had. That’s a lot of my belief system. How do you get more people into that, into
entrepreneurship or at least expose them to it? If 1,000 people are exposed to it, X amount will make an attempt and X amount will succeed.
The person who succeeds will hire X amount of people. By doing so, you end up creating a lot of other opportunities because there are a lot
As executive director, it is St. Fort’s job to keep the intellectual flux going. He might plan social events to allow the occupants of 100 State to
come together. Or he may bring someone in to give a talk that is of interests to the members. In many ways, the business growth is self-driven
and it’s St. Fort’s job to make sure they have the ingredients they need to spur that growth.
“We have things that help people develop their businesses,” St. Fort said. “We have workshops and office hours or people who come in for
the purpose of providing mentorships. We might bring in a partner who already provides mentorships. Because of that, it makes it a little bit
different in how we do our collaborations. We want to focus on the environment. When people come in, what does that experience feel like?
What are the ways that people are going to interact? The idea for that is to find ways where other people can develop their own things within
the organization. Someone might say, ‘I want to teach this.’ Then we’ll book the room and help them promote it. People do that very
successfully. Roxie Heintz who does CEOs of Tomorrow, she brings teenagers in every week and they learn social entrepreneurship. She does
it right here in this room. That’s more about the environment. That’s her program. But we create an environment that can help that program. The
idea is like how do you keep doing this so that other people can just plug in and leverage the resources to develop the ideas around an
ecosystem. Internally, there is an ecosystem with all of the different skills. People create their own experiences.”
In many cases, the members know what they need. And St. Fort helps them get it. To put it into a university context, 100 State is more like an
independent study than it is a classroom lecture.
“I don’t like to say it’s an incubator,” St. Fort said. “Incubators are different in terms of how they work with clients or people looking for a
service. In our case, it’s more about the environment. The environment can contain an incubator, contain artists, contain any of these different
things, but our focus is more so the environment as opposed to providing certain tracks for people to follow to build their business.”
Again it is the intellectual give and take.
“People can come in and find what they need to make their idea work,” St. Fort emphasized. “That can come from doing a brain-storming
session, which is like gathering a few people together and brainstorm an idea. It can literally come from talking to someone just sitting across
from you, which happens all the time. ‘What do you do? I’m doing this.’ ‘I’m having a problem with this. Does anyone know how to do that?’
‘Yes, I actually do that.’ There are enough different types of people here where you are going to find someone who can either help you directly
or definitely knows someone else who can help you. One or the other is guaranteed to happen.”
And whatever is missing within the members’ range of expertise, St. Fort can bring in through partnerships and connections. St. Fort will hook
members up with legal and financial expertise that the members need to create and sustain their businesses.
100 State and other new economy business environments revel in their relatively unstructured environment. It’s more about the process than
it is the result. Greg St. Fort and 100 State leave the results up to its members. And it is results that they do produce.
By Jonathan Gramling
There is a certain vibrancy about Greg St. Fort, the executive director
of 100 State, a co-working space that recently relocated to the old
AT&T building on W. Washington Avenue. Born and raised in New
York City, St. Fort seems to want to fit as much as he can into every
minute reflecting the fast pace of the Big Apple. And one gets the
sense that he always wants to be on the cutting edge, in the thick of
things, even if he is the one creating those “things.”
Having the will or even the sensibility of being on the cutting edge
usually means that one will be forced to make one’s own path in life.
That is no more truer than the direction St. Fort’s life has taken.
100 State is cutting edge as a new economy facility that facilities the
flux of intellectual pursuit and interaction that lead to the “light bulb”
coming on in the creation of new economic enterprises or the
evolution of existing businesses. As we walk through 100 State, one
notices that there are all kinds of spaces little spaces and larger