On Tuesday, April 16, 2019, the Dwight Economic Alliance invited Amy Lambert, Executive Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Starved Rock Country Alliance to give a presentation to DEA trustees, staff, and guests. This presentation provided an overview of community-supported business incubators.
Business incubators encourage entrepreneurship by providing startup businesses with a shared physical space, utilities, support, training, and guidance during the critical first year or two of operation. Having such a work space allows entrepreneurs to be more productive than working out of their homes, to engage with one another, and to focus their limited capital on growing their business.
Amy discussed three general levels:
- A Common Work Space model that provides shared space, conference rooms, wifi, etc. for a small membership fee. This hands-off model provides opportunity for low-overhead startup without directly providing support.
- An Incubator model, which provides the work space but also has a process in place where those entrepreneurs joining are selected based on their business plans and are provided with guidance, support, funding, and other assistance.
- An Accelerator model. This is a more advanced model where the oversight committee would be actively engaged in funding, decision-making, and other activities to get the business off the ground as quickly as possible.
Amy recommended that Dwight has the infrastructure in place to implement an Incubator model if the will and the funding are there to make it happen. She spoke to the success of other incubators in the area (specifically Streator) and gave some insight as to what we might look for in a facility to house such a program.
As always, the Dwight Economic Alliance appreciates the insight provided by Amy and the ISBDC SRCA as we look for ways to grow Dwight’s economy. The DEA already provides ISBDC SRCA staff with office space to meet with local entrepreneurs. If you have an interest in starting a business and would like to connect with an advisor, contact Deb Karch at firstname.lastname@example.org.