May 29, 2003
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Village Council business—
Council eyeing incubator, again
Village Council members indicated last week that they want to revise an old concept and create a business incubator with Antioch University in an effort to start more businesses in town.
Council president Tony Arnett proposed that the Village and Antioch create an independent, nonprofit organization that would run a business incubator on the Antioch campus. “I think we as a Council should facilitate the formation of another incubator, working in partnership with Antioch,” Arnett told Council at its meeting May 19, when he introduced the proposal. The concept continues in keeping with a theme this Council has held to this year: to support economic development efforts.
Council member Mary Alexander and Arnett agreed to discuss the idea with Antioch and make a specific proposal to Council later.
An incubator would provide space, contacts and support for local business owners, Arnett said.
Another incubator, the Miami Regional Business Incubator, was started in 1985 at Antioch to serve as a spawning ground for businesses in Yellow Springs. The incubator disbanded in the early 1990s.
During the meeting, Arnett laid out five points with which the incubator would be charged. It would develop a network of resources to assist entrepreneurs, an idea Arnett called “critical.” The incubator would provide businesses financial expertise and develop services or products for larger employers in town.
Arnett also proposed giving the incubator responsibility for managing the Village Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund, which provides gap financing for businesses in the Yellow Springs school district. Earlier this month, Council amended the loan fund’s guidelines so the Village could provide funds to secure land for a commerce park.
Finally, Arnett suggested that part of Antioch’s Kettering Building be redeveloped as space for the incubator.
After the meeting, Antioch University Vice Chancellor Glenn Watts said that starting an incubator is “something we’ve been interested in doing for some time.”
“Yellow Springs has had a history of innovation that has been centered at the college,” Watts said. “We’d like to see that tradition revived.”
Watts also said that establishing an incubator on campus would provide an opportunity for college students to participate in start-up businesses. He said that four labs and some small office space are available on the second floor of the Kettering Building.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for Yellow Springs, and it’s important for the Village to do things like this to increase its tax base,” Watts said.
This is not the first time Arnett has suggested the Village help start a business incubator or work with Antioch. In 2001, Arnett suggested Council explore how the Village and Antioch can “generate entrepreneurial activity that carries over into the community.” A year later he proposed that the VillaÈge approach Antioch about the local economy, including starting a new business incubator at Antioch.
While Council has spent much time discussing and making headway on economic issues, it appears discussions with Antioch, if they’ve taken place, have not produced specific proposals.
When asked why his current proposal is different from past ideas, Arnett said that the “overall climate” on Council and in the community “has changed and interest is growing” in the need to develop businesses in town.
Watts said that in order to be successful, the community has to make a concerted effort to let entrepreneurs know that it would welcome an incubator.
Last week Arnett also reintroduced a proposal to work with downtown retailers to create a “Shop Locally” campaign. Council should “find ways to assist downtown” and to encourage local residents to shop downtown, Arnett said.
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In other Council business:
• Council agreed to discuss at its meeting June 16 requests from local residents Susan Abendroth and Peggy Erskine to address stormwater drainage on the north end of town. Both mentioned building a stormwater retention basin on the Glass Farm. Abendroth also suggested that Council prohibit on the farm anything but stormwater management, farming or conservation until the Village can conduct a stormwater management plan, including collecting “feasibility and cost information” for that end of town.
Arnett had suggested that Council discuss the issue at a meeting in July, but Alexander said that was “too far away.” After the meeting, Alexander clarified that she thought Council should discuss the issue soon since a request was made. “Let’s just discuss it now instead of dragging it out,” she said.
• Council approved 4–0 an emergency ordinance allowing the Village to participate in a State purchasing program, through which the Village could reportedly purchase a new dump truck at a better price.
• Council agreed 4–0 to appoint Phyllis Schmidt to a three-year term on the Village Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund Committee.
• Council approved 4–0 the second reading of an ordinance amending section 1240.05 of the Village Zoning Code, making the section’s street frontage requirements consistent with another part of the code.
• Council said that the Village does not have the money to grant a funding request from AACW to help support its Blues Festival in September.

—Robert Mihalek