The Edmond Sun

Local News

February 18, 2013

Francis Tuttle ready to incubate new businesses

Center hires its first executive director, Fred Green

EDMOND — Fred Green stays busy spreading the word that the upcoming Francis Tuttle Business Incubator can help aspiring business entrepreneurs to succeed.

“I’ll be working with the chamber. We’ll be looking at different types of ways of contacting people,” said Green, the incubator’s executive director. “When they register for a new business, I’m going to be all over them to make sure they’ve got the tools.”

A 38,000-square-foot Francis Tuttle Center for Municipal Excellence is being constructed on the northeast corner of Interstate 35 and Covell Road as a cooperative effort with the City of Edmond.

Francis Tuttle also will accommodate classrooms and offices for the 10,000-square-foot business incubator on the ground floor. Career Development courses and workshops will complete the Business Innovation Center, said Peggy Geib, head of Business and Industry Services at Francis Tuttle.

The concept of a business incubator spread from New York beginning in 1958. More than 1,500 business incubators are in the United States with 48 of them in Oklahoma, Green said.

The Business Incubator is an 18-36 month process. Incubation intends for a business to be sustainable, Green said.

“A business incubator is a concept that accelerates successful development of entrepreneurial companies by providing an array of business support resources and services,” Green said. “The incubator serves the needs of entrepreneurs starting a new venture as well as early stage companies facing struggles in today’s economic situation.”

Individuals enter the incubation knowing they will not survive in business until they identify the constraints of creating their business. They have to offer a viable service with a solid business plan. Sufficient capital must be available for the entrepreneurs to survive the near term, Green said.

“We determine what are the skills that have to be enhanced or developed within that mindset,” Green said.

The Department of Commerce notes there is an 80 percent failure rate in new businesses. However, the National Business Incubation Association reports 87 percent of all firms that have graduated from their incubators are still in business after the first five years.

“It’s an individual program for each entrepreneur because what one individual may be insufficient in, another one might be a superstar in,” Green said.

Admission requirements are one reason that business incubators are successful. Not everyone who wants to start a business can get in an incubator, Green said. Admission will be online once a web page design is completed for Francis Tuttle’s new incubator.

Bank loan officers would refer clients to Green when he served as the executive director of the Red River Region Business Incubator, located in Paris, Texas.

“I think that will be a source here, too,” Green said.

Eight offices will be available for incubation with an additional five areas that can be customized for individual requirements such as light manufacturing and assembly. An affiliate program for starting a retail store offers flexibility for individuals not to have to be in an incubator office.

“I’ve worked with everything from Web designers to pipe fitters in the incubation environment,” Green said.

Cooperative incubator programs are being developed with the University of Central Oklahoma as well as Oklahoma Christian University, Green said. A collaboration with higher learning will include small business seminars and student incubators with intern programs.

Construction of the Francis Tuttle building is expected to be completed in time to open the facility on July 1, he said.

“When we open the doors, I hope to have at least two clients already under incubation. We’ll put them in temporary facilities until we do,” Green said.

TO LEARN MORE about business incubation, visit nbia.org.

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