Why Doesn’t Every Main Street Have an Incubator? I often ask that to myself when I see that a new, hot company has been built against all odds from a basement, or college dorm room. I ask myself, what about the other ten, twenty, one hundred, or one thousand that failed because they didn’t have a place to work from and feed off other driven individuals and entrepreneurs. Municipalities and state government are so willing to divvy out tax credits and business development monies to attract global companies, that they often sacrifice far more than they gain just to keep people employed.
Why must we attract companies from elsewhere to our state, when we can support young companies that are built from the ground up right here at home? These companies would have loyalty to our towns and states far more than a global firm that moves operations to the lowest cost domicile as soon as its sweetheart package expires.
There are alternatives. We can build small business incubators on Main Street to support up and coming companies, while also providing executive suites for established entrepreneurs to work from. There are scores of self-employed people that work from their homes each day that could rent a small space from the incubator; these funds would help subsidize the operation. Along with corporate sponsorships from investment firms and companies interested in working with exciting young companies, these incubators could almost be completely self-sustainable. It probably makes a lot of sense to ask entrepreneurs to pay something to use the facilities, and in return they can be offered professional services (counseling, finance, legal, internet connectivity, etc.).
A single space with so much energy could reinvigorate Main Street in more ways than one. It would be a place that our future business leaders could aspire to work from. The space would be host to routine demonstrations of new products to excited investors and businesspeople. Most of all, it would create local jobs; jobs that have roots, with employers and employees sharing the same home and passion for a sustainable local economy.
This proposal would not be expensive to implement, but if costs were an issue even after the fees and corporate sponsorships, perhaps partnering with local colleges and universities would be a good way to maximize use of the space to lower costs. Business classes could be thought from part of the space and small businesses in the incubator could be asked to mentor students, or lead a workshop in a valuable skill.
If you have any ideas about this topic, please comment!