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Mayor announces closing of Newton Innovation Center

The Newton Innovation Center provided office space to small businesses inside the former Newton Corner library building.

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said she is closing the Newton Innovation Center, a city-supported program that aimed to spur local entrepreneurship by providing office space to small businesses inside the former Newton Corner library building.

The innovation center will close March 1, 2020, Fuller said in a statement.

The center was opened at the building at 124 Vernon Street in 2016 by then-Mayor Setti Warren, who partnered with MassChallenge and the Cambridge Innovation Center to offer “below-market” rate co-working space and conference rooms.

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The center was useful to entrepreneurs, Fuller said, but it never became the hub of activity that would spur an innovation economy in Newton. Instead, successful efforts to spur the city’s economy occurred separately from the center, Fuller said.

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“In the past few years, the co-working industry has expanded enormously so alternatives are now more plentiful, including in Brighton and Needham,’ Fuller said. “Very few entrepreneurs graduated from the NIC to a next office here in Newton.”

The center’s location and facility also proved to be an issue. “A recent study of the NIC commissioned by the Chamber concluded the current building size and location are not well-suited or situated for growth or success,” Fuller said.

MassChallenge pulled out of the center in 2017, and Fuller said it continued with a partnership with the city, the Cambridge Innovation Center, and the Newton Needham Regional Chamber.

Now the city is working with the chamber and the Cambridge center to find new opportunities for those now at the center, Fuller said.

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“We are in the process of determining how the building will be utilized moving forward, including evaluating the space for use by a City department,” Fuller said in the statement. “We will work closely with the City Council to determine its future if it is not used by a City department.”

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.