Helping start-up businesses makes good sense

Jun 24, 2013

It is wonderful news that the Center for New and Expanding Business is now filled with budding entrepreneurs. That wasn’t the case not too long ago.

The Smoky Mountain Development Corporation has had on and off success with its business incubator program. There have often been vacancies at the center with 17,000 square feet of available rental space. At other times, there have been businesses that simply stayed on, which defeats the idea of a facility where new business owners can “incubate” before standing alone.

The idea behind the center is a good one. As it becomes increasingly difficult to attract new businesses to an area, especailly the large manufacturing companies that provide job opportunities for county residents, many communities have decided an excellent option is to focus on helping start-up companies build or expand a business.

Businesses that start out in a place are likely to feel vested in that community, especially if it is in the place where they graduated from high school and have family ties.

As these local start-up businesses take off, there’s a chance  they will grow, add employees and give back to the community which helped launch them.

Haywood County is fortunate to have a facility where start-up business owners can rent space for a fraction of what it would cost to set up shop elsewhere, use central areas for a conference or break room and take advantage of copiers or fax machines available at the site.

An added perk is the proximity to Haywood Community College, where there is a wealth of courses and services to assist small businesses. These services allow new businesses a chance to “walk before they run” so to speak.

Facilities such as the Center for New and Expanding Businesses not only make sense for communities, but also provide a tremendous edge for those lucky enough to be accepted as a rental client. Center Director Allan Steinberg said space is offered for $3 to $4 a square foot, considerably lower than the $8 to $12 a square foot business owners pay elsewhere.

Technically, businesses can stay at the center for up to two years as they work the kinks out of their business plan, but through the years, it is a rule that has often been overlooked. It shouldn’t be.

In our global economy, ideas are plentiful, markets are competitive and business owners need to find a way to carve out a niche where they can be successful. Two years is a reasonable time for those in business incubators to fully launch. After that, it is time to give the next person in line the same chance.