Franklin Business Incubator: Driving the Work of Tomorrow in Southeastern Virginia
Fill in the blank: Starting a business is _______________.
Scary? Overwhelming? Exciting? Crazy?
The Franklin Business Incubator can help people who start their own business in southeastern Virginia.
We already know your next question: what’s a business incubator?
The goal of the Franklin Business Incubator program is to assist businesses during the first few years when they have the greatest needs and are most vulnerable to failure. The incubator provides hands-on management assistance, access to equipment and exposure to critical business and technical support services under one roof.
To learn more, we spoke with Mallory Taylor, Marketing and Research Assistant for Franklin Southampton Economic Development, Inc. The City of Franklin is a proud member of the Alliance.
Q: What exactly is the business incubator? Where is it located?
A: In general, the incubator is a building that houses support staff and programs to help young firms grow and thrive. Businesses eventually graduate from the incubator when they’re ready to be on their own. We’ve had 14 graduations to date.
The building itself is beautiful. It is a four-story, 40,000 square foot, fully renovated and restored office facility located at 601 N. Mechanic St. in Franklin. It was originally built in 1907 to manufacture buggies and surreys, which is why we still have a buggy in the building today. The full history is available here.
Q: How do businesses apply to use the space? What are the requirements?
A: The process is simple. The application is available online here and applicants are evaluated on a variety of criteria, including the potential for growth and job creation, the viability of the business, the need for and willingness to accept the services of the incubator and more. The application is then reviewed by an advisory board to determine if the business meets the criteria.
On average, a business stays in the incubator for five to seven years. Ideally, the business owner(s) graduates and keeps the business in Franklin but that is not a requirement.
Q: Your website lists many benefits such as ample free parking, conference room use for up to 80 people and office equipment like copiers and projectors. On-site training programs are also offered. Can you expand on those?
A: Sure. We offer many on-site trainings on a variety of topics. We have an upcoming training focused on customer service including how to make a sale and keep customers coming back.
In the past we’ve had trainings on QuickBooks, insurance, taxes, social media, marketing and more. We try to include an assortment of topics to meet different business needs.
It’s important to note that these trainings are free and also open to other members of the community – not just those who belong to the incubator.
Q: Are there any success stories that stand out in your mind? Can you give us an example?
A: The shining star that sticks out in my mind is HighGround Services. They are an engineering corporation that’s in the process of graduating from the incubator now. They started with just two guys and have grown to more than 60 employees. They’re buying the building across the street from the incubator and have an office in Newport News. They’ve taken advantage of all our services, classes and networking to grow their business and stand on their own.
Q: Where can people find more information?
A: More information is available on our website at: http://www.franklinsouthamptonva.com/business-incubator/and our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/franklinbusinessincubator. We often post classes and workshops to our Facebook page as well.