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New firm near Fort Bragg aims to spark growth for military contractors

By PAUL WOOLVERTON | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: June 28, 2019

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — Entrepreneur Andrew Chang on Thursday said that when he was a soldier years ago at Fort Bragg, he never set foot in downtown Fayetteville.

Now he is bringing the newest location of his company, Eastern Foundry, to downtown Fayetteville because of its proximity to Fort Bragg. Eastern Foundry is opening a coworking space and federal contractor consulting service in September in the Robert C. Williams Business Center on Hay Street.

Eastern Foundry's service is specifically for federal government contractors, Chief of Staff Regina Burke said.

"All of our companies are solving a problem for the federal government," said Chang, who co-founded Eastern Foundry and is its chief executive officer. Eastern Foundry has more than 200 clients in the Washington D.C. metro area, he said, and they provide about 10,000 to 15,000 jobs around the country.

Fayetteville will be Eastern Foundry's third location and its first one outside the D.C. area.

"It's good to be back," Chang told about 45 people at a reception at the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corp. office. The audience included potential clients.

Eastern Foundry's Fayetteville operation is in partnership with the FCEDC corporate recruiting organization — they will share the fourth floor of the Williams Business Center. Eastern Foundry expects to grow quickly and expand, and could go into space in the building's lower floors as it grows, said President Robert Van Geons of the Economic Development Corp.

Coworking space is a relatively new concept in Fayetteville, though is common in larger cities.

Companies such as Eastern Foundry offer furnished office space and office support infrastructure for small businesses. This generally involves internet access and meeting rooms.

Much of the office space is a shared space, with clients in a room together so they can network and talk shop as they run their businesses.

Burke said Eastern Foundry's clients, even if they are competitors, have found it helpful to talk to each other about shared problems they face when working with the government and to advise each other.

Adrian Williams of Fayetteville runs a start-up computer and information technology consulting service from his home. He said he may become an Eastern Foundry client. Eastern Foundry could provide him with a virtual office outside of his home office, he said.

"With a virtual office, you can schedule conference space," providing a professional setting for him to meet clients, Williams said. He would like to have access to conference call equipment, a mailing address in an office building, and other amenities for those times when his home office wouldn't serve, he said.

Eastern Foundry will be about a block from Revolutionary Coworking, a nonprofit company that has a coworking space in the Self-Help building.

Chang doesn't see himself as competing against Revolutionary Coworking — he's catering to a different clientele, he said. Some clients don't need office space, Chang said, but instead hire Eastern Foundry for advice and consulting on how to work with the federal government and win contracts.

Mario Benavente of Revolutionary Coworking attended the reception and he said he doesn't consider Eastern Foundry to be a competitor.

Eastern Foundry's clients likely will be well-established businesses prepared to pursue federal contracts, he said, while Revolutionary Coworking focuses more on small businesses.

©2019 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

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