An Interview with Forge Developer Andy Zimmerman

Andy Zimmerman has been in the development game for about a decade, and in that time he’s become one of the city’s movers and shakers, transforming West Lewis Street from a forlorn corner of downtown into a hub of innovation.

Co-working space HQ Greensboro, which Andy co-founded, has set up shop there, along with distillery Fainting Goat Spirits next door. At the end of the street is maker space Forge Greensboro, where up-and-coming entrepreneurs can use lathes, mills, laser cutters, 3D printers and other machines. Andy renovated the building three years ago and sits on the board of the organization.

Why do you feel something like Forge Greensboro is needed?

When I was first introduced to it, I had no idea that the Forge would be what it is today for Greensboro. I looked at it more as a hobbyist space, an opportunity for collaboration. There are not many places where you can get heating/air conditioning, a conference room, a good membership base for $54 a month. It’s given a hand up to people who wouldn’t be able to start a business because they didn’t have a location, or the machinery and equipment, or the social capital of the people willing to share their ideas.

What would you say the climate is like for up-and-coming entrepreneurs here in Greensboro?

It just keeps getting better. We have an affordable city. The quality of life is strong, and opportunities are strong for the future. It’s a good environment for young and old entrepreneurs who are looking to reinvent themselves.

What lessons have you taken away from some of the people who have set up shop at Forge Greensboro or HQ Greensboro?

I have networked with several of them with ideas that I couldn’t take to fruition without somebody else’s expertise. I’m great at ideas, great at funding them, but I can’t execute them without some of the expertise I’ve met at the Forge and HQ.