Center for Education and Economic Development (CEED) in Mission, Texas

Aruba Instant solution empowers entrepreneurial incubator and co-working facility to develop #GenMobile workforce

Moving a historically disadvantaged area to prosperity depends on developing an STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) focused workforce, which Alex Meade and Daniel Silva are pursuing with laser-focus.

“After designing our own version of ‘Shark Tank’ for local start-ups, we quickly noticed relatively few incorporated technology in their business plans,” explains Meade, CEO of the Mission, Texas, Economic Development Corporation.

“Whenever we asked why,” says COO Silva, “the consistent response was ‘we don’t know how.’”

Technology Key to Establishing CEED

During ensuing efforts to alleviate the tech-deficit paradigm, Mission EDC began discussing options for establishing a facility where it could create a complete education, entrepreneurship and technology ecosystem. Serendipitously, a former department store building became available right next to City Hall.

“Although our organization had entrepreneurship and education expertise, we contacted a well-regarded local integrator, Frontera Consulting to assist with the technology aspect,” Meade says. “They designed, engineered, modeled, recommended, integrated, configured, and installed our network.”

After assisting Mission with identifying requirements, Frontera recommended wireless solutions from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.

Soon, plans for the Center for Education and Economic Development (CEED) began taking shape.

Aruba Provides Enterprise Solution on a Non-Profit Budget

Our complete Aruba Instant solution is working flawlessly. We’re excited for what the future holds.
Alex Meade, CEO, Mission Economic Development Corporation

To ensure Mission EDC’s ultra-lean 4-person staff could sustainably supply programing and provide entrepreneurs with low-cost office and collaborative workspaces, reliable and high-performance infrastructure topped the requirements list for the 55,000 sq. ft. CEED.

Additionally, Mission desired streamlined technology administration as the organization lacked an internal IT department.

For Wi-Fi, Mission selected 802.11ac and Wave 2-enabled Aruba Instant access points and AirWave for network management. To connect Aruba Instant APs to the wired network, and power them efficiently with Power over Ethernet (PoE), MEDC also chose the 5400R Switch Series.

Other HPE and HP, Inc., solutions were also adopted at the #GenMobile incubator. This included servers, storage, data center switches, virtual desktops, monitors and related equipment.

“We took a comprehensive, long-range approach, by including solutions that addressed the needs of today and tomorrow,” says Drew Lentz, Founder and Owner of Frontera.

Self-provisioning Aruba Instant loaded with smarts

By using Aruba’s self-configuring Instant APs, even small organizations like MEDC gain a scalable enterprise WLAN, loaded with the security and smarts, without breaking the budget. Aruba Instant APs supply zero-touch provisioning and include an HPE Smart Rate multi-gig uplink to boost network performance in high-density environments like CEED’s collaborative workspaces, lecture hall and conference rooms.

To fully leverage Aruba Instant’s Wave 2 capabilities, the 5400 zl series switches provide HPE Smart Rate multi-gigabit Ethernet ports to deliver high-speed mobile experiences. AirWave ensures an optimized network, supplies proactive monitoring and enables effective planning as needs change.

A future-proof solution for IoT and other needs

Each of the deployed solutions also contribute to future-proofing CEED. “For example, the infrastructure provides connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) systems, like automated window coverings to improve energy efficiency,” says Frontera’s Lentz.

“Instant APs enhanced operational efficiency,” he continues. “Should capacity needs change, requiring additional APs, a non-technical person can just plug them in.”

Exceptional Mobile Experiences Help CEED Grow

Today, CEED includes 20 office spaces, a theatre-style lecture hall, conference rooms, a board room, smart classrooms and a computer lab, along with collaborative workspaces. Mission EDC has even grown to a staff of 10 to serve all of the new needs.

“In addition to renting office and group spaces, we make the 285 co-working seats available on a membership basis,” Silva says. “To hit our revenue targets, we intend to grow the facility and our programming to around 900 people daily.”

“To ensure so many people can fully utilize our facility, we depend on our technology infrastructure to supply exceptional mobile experiences,” he adds.

Exploring location-based services for operational support

Serving hundreds of visitors has surfaced new operational issues. To assist, Mission is investigating location-based services.

“Even though our headcount has more than doubled, to 10 people, staying ahead of consumables like restocking the restrooms and refilling the printers, is unfamiliar for us,” Silva points out. “Combining IoT with location-based services can help us proactively anticipate these and other maintenance needs.”

Facility Successes Draw National Buzz

Although only open a few months, demand for CEED space is strong. Plus, a growing list of Mission EDC programs are already delivering on the center’s promises.

“Several businesses call the facility home,” Meade says. “We also see steady flow of individuals interested in our co-working space, along with an increasing number of community organizations such as our area’s school districts.”

“Our own programing, combined with that of partner entities, is not only making a palpable impact on our immediate community, but also on the lives of people throughout the Rio Grande Valley,” he adds.

Funding, recognition fueled by tech excellence

What’s more, the CEED concepts and technologies are attracting regional and national attention to Mission, including the Texas Workforce Commission’s first grant specifically targeted to teach computer science. “The technology we’ve deployed played a huge role in gaining those funds,” says Meade.

Further, after the prominent bank BBVA Compass opened an office within CEED, CEO Manolo Sánchez visited the facility. “He’s very impressed with our mobility focus,” Silva says. “As mobility is a key initiative at BBVA, Sánchez directed a related team of individuals to travel to Mission and tour CEED immediately to gain insights. We hosted them a week later.”

Scalability to meet any new need

Moving forward, infrastructure flexibility and reliability will continue playing a critical role. “We’re confident our scalable technology can meet the needs of any tenant,” Meade says.

“For example, a game developer recently moved into the center,” he continues. “It’s placing demands on our technology we didn’t originally expect. However, our Aruba and HPE infrastructure is meeting the needs of this firm, and our other tenants, flawlessly.”

“Overall, we’re excited for what the future holds,” Meade says.