The Farmington, New Mexico, Daily Times featured one of my work projects on the front page today. The City of Aztec and the San Juan College Enterprise Center have been exploring the feasibility of a small business incubator, similar to the service currently offered at the college in Farmington. The project has evolved in response to surveys and, well, simply talking to prospective clients and small business service providers.
“Coworking is a trend in the business community of business people paying a modest amount of money to utilize a working space to hold meetings with clients, collaborate with colleagues or offer training or resources to share ideas and get things going in the community,” Castleberry said. “Being halfway between Durango and Farmington is an advantage.”
Judy Castleberry is director of the Enterprise Center, and has both practical and academic experience in small business development. She sees this project as a compliment to her offerings. Aztec also offers the possibility of a historic downtown setting, more in line with the funky, loft-type atmosphere often in demand these days. Here’s where I piped up.
John Shepard, a planner in Aztec’s community development department, said the potential incubator, or coworker facility, is about energy.
“On the demand side, you look at the people the business hub is supposed to serve — the creative class, the lone eagles, the entrepreneurs,” Shepard said. “They’re looking for a location that has energy, that has character, where they can meet with people to do projects. You’re trying to create a space to create more energy downtown. You’re not trying to fill a big empty building. You’re trying to create a center of energy — places for people to create better ideas.”
I’ve got to work on my elevator speech for this project. I hope you get the idea anyway. I’ve looked at the idea of small business incubators off and on since we tried to set one up at Mayville State University. I still think they can be a great tool, but we know a lot more these days about their costs and benefits.
Thanks to James Fenton, business editor with the Daily Times, for sitting through our meeting and making some sense of it.