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New York Mills business start-up center a go

Rumors of a business incubator program in New York Mills were finally confirmed by the NY Mills Economic Development Association (EDA) at its March 6 meeting.

According to the approved plan, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to rent eight fully furnished offices located in the old creamery building, recently acquired by the New York Mills Cultural Center.

Business incubator sites are on the rise thanks to sponsors like M State's Business Entrepreneurial Service (BES). The NY Mills site will be the fifth program in the area, extending its business assistance ideas to local individuals.

Hawley, Detroit Lakes and Frazee incubator sites have been in the works for a while, while Perham's site in the old hospital building will start up soon.

With fully furnished offices, internet and telephone services, and a wide array of workshops, entrepreneurs have plenty of opportunities to expand and strengthen in the community.

The fundamental workshops, required for the incubator attendees but open to the public, include topics like QuickBooks training, leadership, marketing and social media in business.

Beth Pridday, Executive Director of M-State BES, said the main purpose of this program is to bring businesses into town, with the hope they will stay when their business incubation period is done.

Pridday said the trend has been for businesses to stay in the town they incubate in, but it is certainly not a requirement. BES takes a regional approach, helping entrepreneurs begin in communities across the region.

Pridday offered the example of a recent entrepreneur who was taking advantage of incubator sites in more than one community, trying to find the perfect fit.

Most businesses stay in the incubator site for three to five years before graduating to different facilities, allowing other entrepreneurs a chance to get started.

Pridday said there are a lot of success stories with the incubation sites - some are hiring employees and expanding to other offices.

NY Mills EDA member Richard Rankka said, depending on the occupancy rate, the worst-case scenario would be that the EDA break even - that's after charging a monthly rental fee that will offset the expenses incurred from M State and rent paid to the Cultural Center.

A finalized rental agreement has not been set at this time, as the EDA wants to check into rental agreements in other towns.

Slight upgrades will need to take place at the creamery building, including separate locks on each rental space, and a master lock on the door, so renters can have access to the building at all times.

Interest has already spun around the NY Mills site. A survey is posted on the city website that links to the BES contact. For more information call Erika Johnson, Incubator Manager, located out of Detroit Lakes at 218-846-3665

The BES group will also have a booth at the upcoming NY Mills tradeshow on March 24.

The city of NY Mills is setting up an advisory board, which will help review applicants along with BES officials. The board will consist of a representative from the EDA, the Cultural Center and three other community members. If anyone is interested in being part of this committee, they should contact the city office at 218-385-2213.