For property owners and managers with commercial spaces to fill, it’s worth keeping an eye on local business incubators for potential tenants ready to “hatch” and move into their own space.
Business incubators are organizations designed to nurture and accelerate the growth of new companies by providing office or production space at below-market rates. They’re run as nonprofits, usually by municipalities, regional economic development organizations or corporate partnerships, but the space and services they provide are only available to for-profit businesses.
Though a business incubator may sound like just a coworking space, they’re actually much more, providing not only office space but support and resources like coaching and networking with potential investors. They’re also not limited to professional services—many of the incubators located around Wisconsin have spaces that can accommodate light manufacturing, scientific research or commercial kitchens for food production.
Why look to business incubators?
There are other key differences between a business incubator and a coworking space that make them a good potential source of commercial real estate clients.
- Tenants can’t stay there indefinitely. Most incubators give tenants a time limit of three to five years, so they can continually be offering spaces to new emerging businesses. Some may even look to leave earlier, if their business has expanded beyond the space the incubator has to offer.
- They’ve already been vetted. Incubators only want to invest in businesses with the best chance for success. Space is valuable, so most incubators evaluate a potential tenant’s business plan before offering them a place.
- They have a track record. Around 20% of new businesses fail in their first year, and 50% fail to make it five years. By the time a business is ready to move out of an incubator, they’ve already been in operation for several years, making them a more stable bet than a brand-new entrepreneur.
Wisconsin’s business incubators
There are at least a dozen business incubator spaces in Wisconsin, and more opening every year—and they’re not just found in larger metro areas like Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. Whether you’re located in River Falls, Whitewater or Janesville, there is likely an incubator close by with growing businesses looking for office or manufacturing space. You can find many of them by checking out the Start In Wisconsin resource directory.
New tenants, new success stories
With locations in Platteville and Richland Center, Restaurante Los Amigos is building on their success by adding a tortilla production operation using the resources offered by the Platteville Business Incubator and funds from the Main Street Bounceback Grants Program.
This is just one of many incubator success stories, and vacant commercial spaces for them to fill. You can help by spreading the word about the funds available to businesses looking to move into their own space through the Main Street Bounceback Grants Program. We’ve made it easy by providing social media graphics, an info sheet and other marketing assets for you to use at wedc.org/msbb-toolkit/.