Selinsgrove, PA , September 28, 2015
If the Rural Business Innovation Corporation’s proposed business incubator in Selinsgrove achieves the same success shared by more than 1,200 similar projects around the nation, the $41,000 now invested in the venture will return solid dividends to the local economy.
The incubator is projected to open next month in a downtown Selinsgrove office, said Kelly O’Brien Gavin, executive director of the nonprofit Rural Business Innovation Corp.
It has received funding from Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove Projects Inc., the Selinsgrove Chamber of Commerce, and most recently, a $5,000 donation from an anonymous donor. It is still seeking an additional $14,000 needed to lease office space, but O’Brien Gavin is confident her organization can secure the funding.
The business incubator will serve fledgling entrepreneurs at no cost, linking them to resources and helping secure loans and grants. Rural Business Innovation also manages incubators in Lewisburg, Sunbury and Bloomsburg.
In 2011, business incubators across North America assisted 49,000 start-up companies which, in turn, provided full-time employment to nearly 200,000 workers and generated annual revenue of nearly $15 billion, according to the International Business Innovation Association, an organization that assists business incubation and entrepreneurship programs.
Incubators work to reduce the risk of small business failures by providing business support services and resources tailored to young firms during the critical start-up period, when new ventures are most vulnerable. About 87 percent of the business owners who started in an incubator remain in business after venturing out on their own, according to the INBIA.
Research shows that for every $1 of public subsidy invested into an incubator, the small business clients and graduates generate about $30 in local tax revenues as their ventures grow, the INBIA reports.
The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania reports that it has created or retained more than 10,000 manufacturing jobs from 1994 through 2014 by linking early-stage technology-based firms and established manufacturers with experts, universities, funding and other resources.
Ben Franklin has established 10 business incubators to serve its 21-county region, graduating more than 80 successful companies since it established its first incubator in 1983. It has helped create 16,600 new jobs for Pennsylvania workers, retained 22,958 existing jobs and started 470 new companies which developed 1,356 new products and processes.
No wonder Carol Handlan, the president of the community group, Selinsgrove Projects Inc., is excited about the possibilities.
"I’m thrilled Selinsgrove is able to offer this to young, start-up entrepreneurs," she said. "I definitely think it will have an impact on downtown. Hopefully, we’ll attract new businesses and keep them here."
If it does, it will be thanks to Susquehanna University, the local community organizations and that anonymous donor who had the confidence and foresight to invest in the future.