Incubators help grow Valley businesses

MESA, AZ - At a time where money to start your own business may be as hard to come by as a job, a new concept in business development may help you succeed.

“People think incubators are for chickens,” said Francine Hardaway of Stealthmode Partners here in the Valley. “Actually these are more virtual places where businesses collaborate.”

She is talking about “business incubators” also known as “business accelerators.”

Hardaway has been involved in helping businesses launch by using what is a growing number of incubators that are popping up and expanding all around the Valley.

“Right now there is no capital to start a business, that is the bad news. The good news is you really can start a business with nothing,” she said. “There are no jobs so people have to retrain and they are retraining by starting their own business.”

The incubators are offices set up for businesses to share space. The West Mesa Business Community Development Corporation is one of the incubators. It serves as an office for eight businesses and serves many more.

The office, at 567 W. 10th Street in Mesa, also serves as a meeting place and where business development workshops are held.

Hardaway explains the concept of an incubator has expanded quite a bit.

You might commonly think of an incubator for very specific types of business that require elaborate and expensive equipment and lab space to develop. The City of Chandler opened such a site last year at the old Intel facility near McClintock Drive and Chandler Boulevard. About a dozen businesses have since moved in and one has actually expanded enough to start hiring.

“It can also be about neighborhood businesses,” said Hardaway. She explains, sometimes businesses who are participating in other incubators are sharing the connections and the “mental” space rather than solely the office space.

Gangplank in Chandler is an example of another type of accelerator that is looking to expand further in the downtown area. It is set up for businesses to be able to use as needed. Fourteen businesses in the tech industry actually anchor themselves at Gangplank

“More people are working remotely and more people are starting their own business. The traditional 9 to 5 working out of an office and isolating yourself isn’t working anymore,” said Katie Charland of Gangplank.

Charland said Gangplank is expanding nationwide and expects the model of “shared workspace" to grow significantly in the coming years.

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