Chamber Executive Director
Money and resources.
You have to have plenty of both to make a business work, but you can’t get the latter without the former.
It’s a common conundrum for upstart and fledgling businesses. But for those who fit that description in the Vandalia area, help is on the way.
Kaskaskia College Small Business Development Center Director Steve Groner shared details of the school’s business incubator program during his presentation at the Aug. 6 Vandalia Chamber of Commerce monthly members meeting.
Business incubators are basically highly affordable, fully-loaded, 120-square foot offices that can be rented by businesses that qualify. That rent includes a desk and chairs, a desktop PC with internet access, an inkjet printer, a phone with voicemail, a four-drawer locking file cabinet, a bookcase, two-drawer lateral/locking files, utilities and access to conference rooms, classrooms and training facilities.
KC has also paid for copies and long distance calls at its existing incubators, even though it isn’t obligated to. Tenants have 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access to the facility and get their own keys and security codes.
Rent is just $120 to $125 per month.
“It’s not meant to be a profit-making venture (for the college),” Groner said. “It’s actually meant to be something that is beneficial to the startup business community. For a small business owner it’s meant to not add stress to their life.”
Three such incubators will be available in Vandalia once the Phase II extension of the KC Vandalia Campus is completed. Construction will begin as soon as the state kicks in its financial obligation for the project.
There are two requirements for businesses interested in renting an incubator. First, they need to meet with Groner. Second, the prospective tenant must have a business plan. A written plan is preferred, but a verbal plan will suffice unless it is determined to be a questionable endeavor.
“The idea of that is to make sure it’s a good fit for where that person is in the development of their idea and the expansion of their business,” Groner said.
Groner said good fits for the incubators include: financial service companies, part-time attorneys, family counseling services, accountants, manufacturing reps for product lines and computer service firms.
Groner indicated the incubators are ideal for those looking to move their business out of their homes.
“If the noise, distractions and space just aren’t working out for them, that’s a perfect time to come to us,” Groner said.
The goal is for businesses to be self-sufficient enough to leave the incubator program in two years, although exceptions are made based on economic conditions.
Non-profit organizations are not eligible to participate.
“I feel very strongly about helping those organizations,” Groner said. “But by college rules the incubators are for businesses that are trying to make a profit.”
For more information, call Groner at 618-545-3260 or email him at email@example.com.
In other business:
• Chamber president Brock Brannon announced plans to print a 100th Anniversary Vandalia Chamber of Commerce cookbook. The book will include recipes from current Chamber members and their families, current Chamber employees and their families, past Abe Award winners and their families, and past Chamber presidents and their families. Recipe submission forms are available at www.vandaliachamber.org and are due by Aug. 25.
• Brannon announced plans to team up with WKRV/WPMB for a “shop local” promotion in November.
• Brannon announced that the New Business Breakfast event once hosted by the Chamber would be changed to an evening event at the country club and be more of a social hour. The event is tentatively planned to be held in the late fall.
• Brannon asked the crowd for any suggestions for the annual Chamber banquet, which will be held Jan. 29.
• Chamber Director Seth Whitehead welcomed new members OCD Cleaning Services and Pro-Comp Case Management.
• Brannon gave a special thanks to Sally Emerick and Holiday Inn Express for sending their landscaper out to the Chamber building to do extensive work prior to the Illinois Tourism Commission’s visit to Vandalia.
• Tourism Secretary June Mahon reported that 284 visited the tourism center in July, representing 23 states and two foreign countries, Israel and Chile.
• Brannon reminded members that State Rep. and candidate for Illinois treasurer Tom Cross will be the guest speaker at the next Chamber meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 3.