Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Helping Build Businesses: Norman's eTec Wins Incubator of the Year Award

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Helping Build Businesses: Norman's eTec Wins Incubator of the Year Award

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - Startup companies face many challenges trying to get off the ground and running. The support system that comes with involvement in a business incubator can alleviate a lot of those pains and help put a business on the path to success, a federal official said.

Business incubators offer everything from office space and technical assistance to management guidance and consulting tailored to a young company.

"A small startup may be very good at their business - what they sell or what they do - but not as good at the fundamentals of operating a business - leasing space, payroll, accounting, things like that," said Larry Weatherford, spokesman for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Oklahoma district office. "The incubator provides the kind of support that allows them to focus on their core business."

Business incubators typically are operated by different groups, including technology centers or resource partners such as small business development centers. Not all of the more than 20 business incubators in Oklahoma are connected to the SBA, but Weatherford said he highly recommends small businesses take advantage of their opportunities.

"Probably the greatest benefit from my perspective is the ability to be with other startup businesses in that you don't feel so alone," he said. "Other people are going through the same challenges. If you go rent space in an established office building, you can feel isolated. At an incubator, you have the support system around you."

Norman Economic Development Coalition's eTec, or emerging technology entrepreneurial center, this year's Journal Record Incubator of the Year, has graduated a dozen companies from its business accelerator program since it opened in 2001. In 2009, the eTec program added a second center to provide additional space for technology entrepreneurs in the Norman area.

By being associated with NEDC, companies have options of growing into their own facilities or one of the business parks operated by the economic development group. …

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