Gina Lujan calls the Hacker Lab she built with partner Eric Ullrich in South Sacramento “a village.”
And that is exactly what she had in mind when she and Ullrich went about creating the collaborative technology networking space in the Capitol Region. She was determined to respond to a common community concern: Sacramento needs to grow its own technology community.
Hacker Lab rents space (office and desk) to startups, ranging from web designers, software developers and game designers. With 14 years of experience in technology and 20 years as an entrepreneur, Lujan serves as founder, director, and CEO. Her main job functions now are community building, business relations, facility operations and event planning.
And the community is coming to the village. In 2013, she was honored among the “Women Who Mean Business” in the Business Journal and a Valley Vision’s 2013 Regional Economic Leader. The Business Journal also tapped her among the top executives of the region for 2013 and 2014.
The recent Employment Development Department stats showing the Sacramento recovery back to 2008 levels, tells Lujan that her efforts are part of that recovery.
“The climate is growing in the region and I am hopeful we are headed in the right direction,” she said.
She says education is key to sustaining this growth.
“Everything starts with education,” she said. “We need the skill sets to retain talent, for employment and entrepreneurship. Most of our higher educational institutions lack the curriculum needed to compete with other regions.”
And without education, there might not be a critical economic driver so visible in other regions, such as the Bay Area, with small business and entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurship is our biggest economic driver in this country. Two out three jobs are created by small business,” she said.
Lujan also serves as creative director for Webify, a web design company.
But her latest contribution to ”the village” is HackerCare, a PPO for entrepreneurs – those who work as independent designers or are en route to startups might not have access to health care through employers and find purchasing insurance solo cost-prohibitive. Purchasing as a group, albeit “a village,” offers more options and more power, she says.
Carol Terracina-Hartman is a freelance writer based in Sacramento. She covers all things environment. In 2012, she received the Outstanding Service Award from the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. See her work at Examiner.com.