“By any measure, American Underground (AU) has been a runaway success,” says the a case study by the University of Virginia’s Thriving Cities. AU’s 2015-16 annual report confirms that conclusion..

AU currently hosts 257 companies, up from 73 just three years ago. AU-headquartered companies raised nearly $30 million in 2014-15 and is, unusually for a nonprofit – will actually make money in 2017.

After just three years in business, the incubator was designated one of seven Google for Entrepreneurs and has attracted glowing press from major media including The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, and Business Insider, The New York Times, Forbes, and USA Today and others.

And, though most startup incubators are nonprofits or operate at a loss, Chief Strategist Adam Klein expects American Underground to turn a profit in 2017.

Other key figures from the AU annual report include:

  • It was featured in national news media 179 times, 150 more stories than in 2014-2015, including in Forbes, Fast Company, USA Today, and The New York Times.
  • AU businesses employ 1,527 people, 782 full-time, 745 part-time and contracted.
  • Of AU businesses who sought funding, 88 percent received it, up 5 percent from the previous fiscal year.
  • About 874 people use the AU space on a daily basis.
  • Au startups spent $1,400,256 at businesses within two miles of an AU location.
  • AU companies represent more than 34 different industries.
  • AU members speak 38 different languages.
  • AU hosted 125 events and 11,312 people attended an event or toured the facility.
  • AU members brewed 72,576 cups of locally roasted coffee and ate 10,528 slices of pizza.
  • As the executive summary of the annual report notes, “AU has been central to the revitalization of downtown Durham (population: 250,000).

The executive summary notes that the epicenter of Durham’s renaissance is the American Tobacco Campus, a once-abandoned factory for Lucky Strike cigarettes that has been transformed into a beautifully designed mixed-use urban park, and now plays host to AU’s main offices, dozens of other businesses, apartments, restaurants, and art exhibits.

Anyone who witnessed the change in Durham, which was suffering from the loss of tobacco manufacturing and other traditional industry declines, can attest to the effect AU has had on the city.