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Perham business incubator goes cold

The Perham business incubator has closed.

After repeated attempts to attract more tenants proved unsuccessful, the Perham Economic Development Authority decided to end the project, effective July 1.

According to EDA Director Chuck Johnson, there were never enough tenants to fill the incubator’s 11 available offices. Every office needed to be filled in order for the program to break even; since that wasn’t happening, the EDA was compelled to subsidize the project.

“The EDA felt it was best to terminate the project, in order to cut those losses,” wrote Johnson in an email to the Focus.

The incubator, more formally called the Perham Business and Entrepreneurial Service Center, opened about 18 months ago. The intent was to attract and provide resources for new and existing business owners, offering affordable, well-equipped office space and business classes through M-State.

A cooperative effort of the EDA, M-State and Perham Health, the offices were located in a section of the former hospital building, in-between Perham Living and the Boys and Girls Club. Similar incubators are open in Detroit Lakes and Hawley.

“The EDA appreciates the help and support that M-State and Perham Health gave the project,” said Johnson. “Unfortunately, the incubator did not fulfill the expectations the three partners had when they embarked on the project.”

Katie Lundmark, the senior director of long-term care at Perham Living, said Perham Living has already moved its home care portion of the agency into the old incubator space. Home care had been located in a house across the street from the incubator, she said, “so this brings all of Perham Living’s entities into one physical location.”

Some parts of the building that were not associated with the incubator are still leased to other businesses and organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, a jewelry shop and a yoga center.

The two incubator tenants who were renting office space at the time of the closure have since moved out.

Marie Johnson

Marie Johnson joined the Detroit Lakes Tribune in November 2017 after several years of writing and editing at the Perham Focus. She lives in rural Frazee with her husband, Dan, their young son and daughter, and their yellow Lab.

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