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Brunswick Community College Prepares To Invite Startups To New Incubator

By Jenny Callison, posted Apr 13, 2016
InnovateNC visitors tour the new BCC incubator Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Jenny Callison)
Brunswick Community College has cut the ribbon on its new incubator and hopes to welcome its first tenants by July 1, officials say.

The nearly 5,000-square-foot facility, completed in February, is at the college’s Leland Center.

Velva Jenkins, BCC vice president for continuing education, economic and workforce development led a tour of the incubator space Tuesday afternoon as part of InnovateNC’s tour of the area.

One section of the incubator, which is located inside the original Leland Center building, houses one 1,100-square-foot bay. Next to it is an unfinished space that could accommodate a corporate learning center or a combination office-board room space, according to BCC president Susanne Adams. The other two bays, roughly 900 square feet each, are in a prefab structure adjacent to the main building.

Running between the two buildings is a reinforced paved roadway that will give trucks and other vehicles easy access to the incubator spaces.

Incubator tenants will be startups in either light manufacturing or warehousing and distribution, Adams said Wednesday.

The incubator was developed with a $200,000 grant from the N.C. Golden Leaf Foundation, a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and about $41,000 from the college itself, Adams said.

The college appointed a small advisory group, called the Success Team, to field inquiries from prospective tenants. Thus far, the team has received about 30 inquiries and has seven applications in hand, according to Adams.

“They will review the business and financial plans of these prospective tenants and help us decide who has the most potential,” she said, adding that the team is composed of bankers, economic development leaders and company CEOs.

The incubator’s mission is to nurture businesses that will create as many as 20 jobs among them within 24-36 months. Each tenant must graduate in no more than three years, although Adams said the hope is that, with the support available to them, tenants’ growth will accelerate so they can fly on their own sooner than that. The lease terms increase with each year.

“We want to make sure we have successful tenants,” Adams said, noting that each young company will have mentoring from BCC’s Small Business Center as well as training and education opportunities from the college. “The lease that they sign includes a commitment on their part to using these resources.”
 
In addition to the college’s Small Business Center and the Success Team – which will continue to be involved – partners  in the incubator initiative are SCORE, University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the UNCW-affiliated Small Business and Technology Development Center and several of the area's chambers of commerce, according to Adams.
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