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Planting the seeds to grow businesses
Mason Enterprise Center opens in Spotsylvania

 A facility run by George Mason University to help small businesses grow opens today in Spotsylvania County.
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Date published: 1/26/2012

BY BILL FREEHLING

A new facility run by George Mason University that will seek to help local small businesses grow is opening today in Spotsylvania County.

The Mason Enterprise Center (MEC) will hold a public grand opening event starting at 3:30 p.m. today at the new center, which is at 4712 Southpoint Parkway. That's the former home of the Civil War Life Museum, which in late 2009 moved to its current home at 829 Caroline St. in downtown Fredericksburg.

The MEC is leasing the roughly 4,000-square-foot space from the Spotsylvania Economic Development Authority. The center is next to the Spotsylvania County Visitor Center.

There are seven offices and seven additional cubicles inside the center that are available for lease. The center caters to startups and teleworkers who need just a small amount of space. Flexible lease terms are available.

The center's goal is to help startups grow and then move on to larger spaces, which is why such facilities are often called "business incubators." Tenants there get a phone, Internet connection, IT support and access to the facility's conference room, printer, copier, fax machine, restrooms and break areas.

Tenants will also have access to classes, consulting, mentorship and counseling services provided by GMU staff. The MEC runs similar centers in Fairfax, Leesburg, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge. Spotsylvania put $25,000 toward renovating the Southpoint center.

The local MEC's first tenant is Sharlene Capobianco, who lives in Spotsylvania and does consulting work for a government contractor. The space allows her to avoid the commute to Northern Virginia. She has been pleased with the arrangement and calls the office "just really convenient."

The University of Mary Washington recently opened a similar business incubator at the Eagle Village mixed-use complex across U.S. 1 from the Fredericksburg campus. UMW's Small Business Development Center is also partnering with the MEC to provide small business consulting services and entrepreneurship classes.

In addition, UMW and George Mason are among the partners--along with ManTech International Corp., Germanna Community College and Stafford County--working on plans for a research and technology park in North Stafford that could include business incubator and classroom space.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405
Email: bfreehling@freelancestar.com