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Incubating Ideas
by Sarah Cooper
Aug 19, 2010 | 697 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href= mailto:dreid@dailysparkstribune.com>Tribune/Debra Reid</a> - MJ Pizzeria owner James Blood makes his pizza sauce and dough from scratch and employs 6 part-time and 3 full-time workers. Blood said his business would not exist without the help of C4Cube.
Tribune/Debra Reid - MJ Pizzeria owner James Blood makes his pizza sauce and dough from scratch and employs 6 part-time and 3 full-time workers. Blood said his business would not exist without the help of C4Cube.
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RENO — A little idea for a pizzeria is now a full-fledged local business. MJ Pizzeria, a southwest Reno gourmet pizza startup, got its first business boost from C4Cube, one of the region’s only pure business incubators.

“We have a simple charter,” said Norman Smith, the executive director of C4Cube. “We help companies be successful.”

Deep behind Smith’s office, mazes of office space were filled with optimistic locals and their startup dreams. Software engineers studied the intricacies of the human eye in one room as they worked to refine a pair of glasses that paralyzed individuals could use to navigate their wheelchairs with a flick of the iris. In another room, a man in goggles soldered together the microchip connections of his invention.

Before opening his own pizzeria in June, Blood was in one of those rooms as well, making phone calls and trying to get the groundwork laid for his small business.

“They helped us refine our business plan and make connections with the right people,” Blood said of C4Cube’s services. “They also provided a quiet place to work as opposed to working out of my home.”

Since its genesis in October 2009, 45 people have occupied the C4Cube facility. Of these six are Cube management personnel, six are entrepreneurs in residence and 33 are client employees. The Cube is now incubating about 12 businesses.

Such services are now back in high demand as Nevada and the nation struggle with record unemployment and sagging economies.

According to the National Business Incubation Association, about 41,000 startups are using 1,200 incubators across the country. Participant businesses’ survival rates after five years are at 87 percent. About 44 percent of companies that don’t use incubators succeed, the report added.

A 2008 study conducted by consulting firm Grant Thornton for the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration found that business incubators produce new jobs at a low cost to the government. The report, Construction Grants Program Impact Assessment Report, found that for every $10,000 in EDA funds invested in business incubation programs, an estimated 47 to 69 local jobs are generated. As a result, business incubators create jobs for less money than do other EDA investments, such as roads and bridges, industrial parks, commercial buildings and sewer and water projects. The study also found that incubators provide up to 20 times more jobs than community infrastructure projects at a federal cost per job of between $126 and $144, compared with between $744 and $6,972 for other infrastructure projects.

Smith added that the future of business growth in Nevada will be found in small startups, not large transplants.

“Poaching those large companies from other states is not as effective as building small business here,” he said.

Half of C4Cube exists as a nonprofit entity, designed to network startups with those who can best help them. The other half of the entity is a for-profit business designed to broker access to human capital and financial help.

According to communications director Lynne Keller, startup businesses can expect to pay about $250 per month for access to office space, printers, telephones, fax machines and other office supplies. The Cube charges $350 per month for its incubator services; however, Keller added that the company has been flexible with its charges.

“We want to bring the community’s resources together,” Smith said. “What we do is all new job growth for small business.”
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