The Business Incubator Center is a non-profit organization that has 22 years of proven experience generating tangible results in expanding and diversifying Mesa County’s economy. The Center offers comprehensive services to businesses through the collaborative efforts of four programs. The Business Incubator Center provides business coaching and workshops through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), financial support through the Business Loan Fund of Mesa County, hands-on business development through the Incubator Program and tax credits for investment and job creation through the Enterprise Zone.
Founded in 1987 by a group of community leaders, the Incubator Center was one of several initiatives created after the 1982 economic bust to diversify the economy and create jobs. The program was initially funded with a $75,000 Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) grant, which used Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to address slum and blight issues. The original site was a 40,000 square foot Biggs Kurtz warehouse owned by local businessman George Wheeler. Mr. Wheeler supported the development of the Incubator Program by offering to lease the occupied space for just $1 per square foot, thus enabling the program to self-generate funds. The Center opened with just two tenants.
The Incubator Center was able to quickly expand services by moving the newly created Revolving Loan Fund (started in 1986) from the Mesa County offices into the Center. This provided the Center with the ability to provide direct financial support to businesses. In addition, the Incubator Center provided an office for the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on site. The SBDC’s business coaching and workshops are integral to the services provided by the center. In 1993, the Incubator Center was named as the official host institution for the Grand Junction SBDC, thus formalizing this long-standing cooperative effort.
In 1999, the Incubator Center moved to the Department of Energy campus and now occupies 60,000 square feet of light manufacturing and office space. The move to this new location required some adaptation of the facilities to meet the needs of the entrepreneurial community. $950,000 was raised from the City of Grand Junction, Mesa County and through the State of Colorado, utilizing Energy Impact funds, to support this capital campaign.
In 2002, The Incubator Center raised $400,000 for building and site improvements from DOLA (Energy Impact funds) and the City of Grand Junction. The majority of these funds were used to open a Commercial Kitchen Incubator Program. The program is a critical tool to support the local agricultural community (peaches, cherries and wineries). All food-related businesses must use a licensed facility to produce commercial food products. The Incubator Center addressed this need with this shared-use kitchen where food producers can legally prepare, process, cook and store food products. It is a fully licensed facility for catering, food preparation, and specialty food production.
Current Financial Picture
Today the center is 75% self-financed. Income is generated through a variety of program revenue opportunities: Incubator Program rent and program fee revenue, low-cost SBDC workshops, Business Loan Fund interest income, Enterprise Zone administrative fees and by providing property management services to the Department of Energy (also located on campus). The additional sources of external funding include state grants for the SBDC and Business Loan Fund, local city and county support contracts, and donations from local private funders.
Periodic capital campaigns are necessary to maintain and improve the condition of our facilities. The Incubator Center has raised over $2 million the past 8 years to support the campus. Sources of these funds include:
• Department of Local Affairs Energy & Mineral Impact
• Gates Family Foundation
• City of Grand Junction
• Mesa County
• Anschutz Foundation
• Bacon Family Foundation
• Boettcher Foundation
• Adolph Coors Foundation
• Lions Club
• Private Donations
Today the Incubator Center continues to serve a mission to support the launch, growth, stabilization and long-term success of business enterprises. The Center now extends its reach throughout the region from Collbran to Craig and into all types of industries including manufacturing, technology, agriculture, construction and retail. The Incubator Center houses 54 clients on site and works with thousands of clients each year. The Center’s role is to provide education and coaching to business owners and leaders and thus establishing an entrepreneurial infrastructure for the community. The Incubator Center measures success by its ability to guide entrepreneurs through sound business decisions and its positive influence on economic growth in the region. The Incubator Center results include:
• the launch of more than 200 companies,
• the generation of more than $137 million in revenue by these companies,
• the creation of 8,982 jobs and
• the investment of $50.6 million in capital.