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Business Incubator

FMU Kelley Center For Economic Development

The FMU Kelley Center for Economic Development is dedicated to the economic growth of the region through business incubation, small business outreach, and various regional economic development initiatives. The Kelley Center also managed the North Dargan Innovation Center in partnership with the City of Florence from October 2016 to January 2019. Under the Kelley Center’s direction, the North Dargan Innovation Center created an environment that has a proven track record of business incubation and for supporting regional start-up and existing businesses through small business assistance.

Business Incubation

The purpose of the incubator is to provide your business a place to foster within a collective community of support and resources. The structure provides the opportunity to establish objective measures of growth for each business, which will serve to identify growth and progress. The incubator serves as a short-term (1 year) support mechanism to help you effectively build your business and grow at a sustainable rate with the hope that you will find success after completing the program. Therefore, you should work to fully maximize your time while in the incubator program.  Once the one-year program is complete, the incubated business will move into Post-Launch outside of the facility.

Business Incubation

Qualifiers include:
  • Research and Development phase
Businesses that are in the pre-launch phase of their business can utilize the support of the incubator program to further develop their venture.
  • Invention - The inventor will need to have more than just an “idea” but have already begun the process to validate the idea. The validation could come from market studies, patent searches, consultation with professionals, or a feasibility study.
  • Research to Commercialization - A practitioner or researcher that needs time to fully develop the research topic or area of interest to reach the point of commercialization.
  • Economic Development - An entrepreneur that is pursuing a major business venture that requires professional office space and assistance in developing the business venture.
  • Startup Business - Professional service firms
Factors when assessing the professional service firm:
  • Background and experience of the proprietor
  • Compliance requirements of the type of service firm and use of the facility
  • Primary focus on the requested incubator business
  • An independently operated business (not as a part of a direct to consumer organization or an agent of another business)
  • Technology driven or new to the market service
  • Pre-Launch businesses (retail or food-related business) - Businesses would not operate the proposed business during incubation but would develop the concept and business model prior to opening the external location.
NOTE: There are certain types of professional service firms as well as traditional retail that are inappropriate for the facility and are not eligible for the incubator program.  Competing businesses will not be accepted into the same incubator.
Incubation Program Acceptance Process
  • Complete the pre-qualification application
  • Complete a Formal Business Plan, which includes market research, financial projections, and personal financial statement/tax returns
  • Formal Interview
Incubation Service Offerings
  • Dedicated Small Business Technical Assistance Staff
  • Referrals to program partners (Local, State, Federal, or Non-profit)
  • Possible internship or student assistants for project-based work
  • Facility resources (office, copier, meeting space, etc…)
  • Professional Development and Training opportunities
Incubation Client Requirements
  • Monthly program fees – $200 (plus ancillary fees such as copier usage)
  • Monthly Reporting - Projected Goals (Short/Long Term), Achieved Goals (Short/Long Term), Professional Development, Networking, Financials
  • Quarterly Synergy Meetings - All clients meet to give updates and foster community of support for each other
  • Facility usage - Must utilize the facility consistently and may only operate the approved business
  • Professional Development and Training opportunities
Small Business Assistance
The staff at the Kelley Center for Economic Development provide technical assistance to non-incubator clients in the area of business plan development, resource identification, and other business services.
Small Business Assistance can take place at the business incubator, by phone, through email, or web conference. We strive to make connecting with the small business seeking assistance easy and convenient.
If you are interested in small business assistance, please complete the client intake form and a staff member will contact you to further assist you.
In an effort to provide relevant and timely information to small businesses in the region, the Kelley Center for Economic Development hosts several workshops, training, and webinars each month at each location.