City planning business incubator for entrepreneurs in Craig
The city of Craig wants to give its next generation of entrepreneurs a space where they can do what they do best — innovation and wealth creation.
On March 5, about 12 on council and select city staff visited Grand Junction’s Business Incubator Center — which offers a host of free and low-cost services to those seeking help guiding their business dreams to reality.
Along with classes for burgeoning businesses, the center offers computer numerical-controlled cutting machines for tool or parts cutting, a 3D printer, and more.
“It was great to see that and see it working,” said Councilman Chris Nichols.
Mayor John Ponikvar also attended and said if you have a business idea, Grand Junction’s Business Incubation Center has money you can use to start it.
“If someone wants to start a business, they start them out from the very bottom with equipment and money,” said Mayor John Ponikvar. “They encourage people to get out and start their business within five years. They have loans available sometimes… to secure equipment and get everything they need to start their own business.”
Ponikvar said more than two dozen successful businesses started at Grand Junction’s incubator, which also houses a top-notch carpentry shop and commercial cookery.
“They had a building for auto mechanics, they had cabinet building, wood building, a commercial kitchen,” Ponikvar said. “I think they’ve had something like 27 business start up out of that commercial kitchen alone.”
According to an email from Craig City Manager Peter Brixius, it appears Grand Junction has funded their incubator using a Small Business Administration grant of $95,000 given to their Small Business Development Center, along with cash matches from Mesa County, and the city of Grand Junction to fund the entire operation. A loan fund is used to give short term loans to businesses enrolled in a five-year incubation program designed to provide constant business consulting services so each successful business can pay loans back. Mesa County also has an enterprise zone joining in the effort, capable of grant contracting and filling in for other area non-profits in need of funds.
Brixius said the city of Craig has identified a possible location for its own business incubator, but he’s not willing to divulge where or when just yet.
“We are currently looking at a potential location for this endeavor, but because of insufficient information we’re not prepared to make any formal proposals or announcements,” Brixius said in an email.
Whatever plans Brixius has in the works for Craig’s version of a business incubator, the public may not know for several months.
“We are seriously looking at the incubator/cowork model for Craig,” Brixius said. “Some of the pieces already exist. We are a few months away from a clear vision of the site available and needed, services offered, funding utilized/developed and established organizational direction needed for this endeavor.”
Brixius pointed out the business landscape in Craig must be laid out for prospective employers of all sizes — like a dinner table that must be set properly and uniformly.
“Innovation and technology efforts need to be organized and in some cases linked to our school district as well as higher learning,” Brixius said. “Our infrastructure is a key area of preparation for new business opportunities looking to relocate and in some cases for existing business growth and expansion. The table has to be set in Craig in order to compete for prospective opportunities.”