Hillsborough Street Renaissance I: It's a Lulu | Citizen | Indy Week
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Friday, March 13, 2009

Hillsborough Street Renaissance I: It's a Lulu

Posted by on Fri, Mar 13, 2009 at 2:05 PM

I didn't do a Dun & Bradstreet, but isn't Lulu the first new business on Hillsborough Street in a very long time where people are employed in  a capacity other than serving food, serving drinks or serving the instructional needs of struggling students? (I'm assuming there's a tutoring business tucked away there somewhere.)

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Lulu is in the business of publishing your books with you, one book or two or 200 at a time -- your call. They'll also do your e-books, your online music, your CDs or DVDs ... very cool; very tech-savvy. They relocated in January from a drab headquarters in Morrisville to the old North Carolina Equipment Company building across from Cup A Joe's; the tractor still sits on the building, but otherwise, Lulu renovated the hell out of the place and it looks great.

Bob Young was the genial host. He started Lulu after stepping away from Red Hat, the open-source (Linux) software firm, which he co-started. Lulu has 79 employees and plans to grow.

Lulu is where it is, Young said, because of Luther Hodges -- meaning, because of the public investments of the '50s and '60s that turned N.C. State, in particular, into a technology research powerhouse while also giving us the Research Triange Park. Young's business is now literally on NCSU's doorstep, best minds please apply.

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The first Hillsborough Street Renaissance Festival is tomorrow -- Saturday -- and it comes to us almost 10 years after the Hillsborough Street Partnership was created and one month or so before Raleigh finally begins to construct the traffic roundabouts that were the heart of the Partnership's 1999 plan.

Interesting that the website for the Renaissance features a tryptich of "Students" and "Families" and "Professionals." That was the Partnership's idea back when: to create a unique place where the world of NCSU could meet the world of Raleigh neighborhoods and the world of city/county/state government all halfway, as it were. Because if you think about Hillsborough Street, it's like a linear city that, if done right, should be inclusive and accepting, traditional and innovative, original and authentic.

So 10 years later, how're we doing with that? That's another blog post someday, maybe -- but Lulu's on board with it, and that's a great thing. An innovative company in an historic building brought right up to date. Doesn't get any better than that.

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