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
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,”
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.
* * *
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
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.