The newly renovated Hamilton County Business Development Center is helping entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground by providing cheap rent and business counseling, among other things. The inexpensive rent and space is very valuable to an entrepreneur starting a business. Ann Dickerson, co-owner of Legends of the Game Cookie Company, and her husband signed a lease on September 1 that gives them an 11,000 square-foot bakery in the building for only $500, utilities included. Space in the building is not meant for established business owners but rather for entrepreneurs still in the earliest stages. For them, this cheap rent in invaluable. The building has about 30 tenants with room for about 30 more, and nearly 400 new entrepreneurs currently working in the building. Kathryn Foster, Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, said it is the largest business incubator in the state and the third largest in the country. Businesses stay in the incubator for 3 years and each year about 22 businesses graduate from the building (ideally to their own store front).
In exit interviews, entrepreneurs say there is valuable synergy in the building, Foster says. “There are 60 businesses all in one place. Whether they have a home healthcare business or a furniture maker, they still have the same challenges”, she says, adding that the new business owners have to deal with the Internal Revenue Service and deal with human resources and insurance issues. “A lot of times it is those things that make or break a company”, she said. Having so many other businesses dealing with similar issues in a central location can be a great resource for an entrepreneur who has little experience.
It is great to see such a strong commitment to develop entrepreneurial resources in Chattanooga. Over the past few years, there has been a considerable increase in aiding with entrepreneurial resources and helping local entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground here in Chattanooga. The Business Development Center is one of a few businesses helping to shed light on entrepreneurs and their importance to the local community. Check out the full article at Nooga.com.