Magazine article Black Enterprise

Accelerated Assistance: Business Incubators Step in Where Startups Fall Short

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Accelerated Assistance: Business Incubators Step in Where Startups Fall Short

Article excerpt

FOR A STARTUP, THE FIRST FEW YEARS OF LIFE ARE MOST critical. It's a pivotal time that only a fraction of ventures have the capital, resources, and stamina to survive. Stepping in to help entrepreneurs are business incubators, which provide coaching, networking opportunities, and even affordable office space to newly minted entrepreneurs.

Robert Jackson, who operates a business incubator as CEO of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Central Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, says incubators play the role of mentor to fledgling startups. Some of these centers specialize in specific industries, while others focus on assisting minority- or women-owned enterprises.

Sheila Mixon, a senior business coach for the Economic Empowerment Center with the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati, helps small businesses locate and apply for business incubator services. Each incubator has its own rules for participation, she says, but in general, successful applicants submit detailed business plans and can pay for incubator office space (which is often subsidized). As an example, the AACCP "charges anywhere from $150 to $500 per month," says Jackson. A lease generally covers individual office space and shared conference rooms.

Incubators often operate in partnership with colleges, chambers of commerce, and other resource organizations. To find a local incubator, Mixon suggests contacting your local chamber of commerce (www.uschamber.com), Urban League office (www. nul.org), or the Small Business Administration (www. …

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