April 28, 2013

Local entrepreneurs supported

Life is good at The Development Corporation (TDC). We’re blessed with a high occupancy rate, and the Board of Directors is considering when and where to construct a new building.

Additionally, we hope to resurrect creating a partnership to build and operate a small-business incubator.

Small-business incubators began in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, often located in historic buildings. The concept caught on in the U.S. in the mid-1980s but waned when the dot-com bubble burst.

Today, incubators are back, and they’re back with a vengeance. The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) reports that there are “41,000 startups using 1,200 incubators” in the U.S.

A business incubator nurtures the development of an entrepreneurial company and helps them avoid critical mistakes during the start-up period when they are most vulnerable, and the results are impressive.

According to NBIA, “the survival rate after five years for a business using an incubator is 87 percent compared to 44 percent for businesses that didn’t use an incubator.”

To be successful, an incubator program needs three inter-related elements.

First is a physical location, a building dedicated as a business incubator. The space commonly has a rent subsidy. A not-for-profit organization, a government agency or a college or university operates most incubators.

Successful business incubators, however, are more than buildings. The second element is a program designed to support the development of entrepreneurial companies through a variety of business-support resources and services. A comprehensively designed program accelerates the development of a start-up business from its conceptual stage to a viable enterprise.

Program components often include:

▶ Mentoring from business advisers and the SBA’s Small Business Development Center;

▶ Business resources including access to legal, marketing and public-relations professionals, as well as a host of shared services to lower operating costs; and

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