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Business incubator will be based here
The Virginia Business Incubator Association is moving its headquarters to Fredericksburg on July 1.


Date published: 6/8/2012

BY CATHY JETT

The Virginia Business Incubator Association is moving its headquarters to Fredericksburg on July 1.

The University of Mary Washington's Center for Economic Development, which is located in the new office and retail building in Eagle Village off Jefferson Davis Highway, will handle its administrative duties.

Brian Baker, executive director for entrepreneurship and business development at UMW's center, is on the association's board of directors and was instrumental in bringing the office to Fredericksburg. Currently VT KnowledgeWorks, a subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, has the contract but was unable to continue it.

"By having [Baker] there and being a part of us, we hope through his engagement in the community to get more members and offer more programs in the area that we would not have been able to do," said William Bean, VBIA president and director of the Technology & Business Center at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg.

The association was created in 2000 as a non-stock corporation to promote, encourage and support the successful establishment and operation of small business incubation programs.

Business incubators are places that provide typical office space and trappings such as desks, filing cabinets and Internet access at no or low cost to new businesses. They usually have an incubation program to help clients develop business and marketing plans, and set milestones they must reach as they go from startup to a sustainable business.

The goal is to stimulate economic development activity in Virginia through the creation of new jobs, investment and business formation.

"Look at the statistics," said Daniel Girouard, VBIA's vice president and the asset manager for the City of Hampton's Department of Economic Development. "Small businesses create the most jobs."

Virginia's Department of Business Assistance provided some initial funding and staff for the VBIA, but this was eliminated several years ago during state budget cutbacks. The number of incubator programs dropped from a high of about 45 to around 25 as a result.

"The programs are making a pretty strong resurgence," Bean said. "One opened near NASA in Hampton, and our membership, 61, is the highest it's been in four or five years."

VBIA holds free roundtables around the state each year as well as an annual conference.

The roundtables provide training and education to create greater public awareness of the economic benefits of entrepreneurship and small business development. This year the focus is on the tools and techniques used to grow second-stage businesses and encourage entrepreneurship and small business development.

The next roundtables will be held Tuesday in Radford and Sept. 25 at UMW's Center for Economic Development.

The 2012 annual conference, "Growing Your Own--Nurturing Entrepreneurial Skills & Small Business Potential," will be held Oct. 22-23 in Charlottesville.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
Email: cjett@freelancestar.com