County busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor pro­gram may be­gin this year

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— Ce­cil County may be on its way to es­tab­lish­ing an in­cu­ba­tor pro­gram that would sup­port and en­cour­age en­trepreneur­ship at the grass­roots level, of­fi­cials told county coun­cil mem­bers Tues­day morn­ing.

“The in­cu­ba­tor pro­gram could be­gin this year,” said Ce­cil County Di­rec­tor of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Lisa Webb.

The county still has to work out some de­tails and co­or­di­nate agree­ments though, she added, not­ing that one agree­ment will be with Ce­cil Col­lege for po­ten­tial co-work­ing space at Elk­ton Sta­tion.

Ce­cil County’s Of­fice of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment an­nounced Mon­day it has cre­ated an ad­vi­sory board to over­see the de­vel­op­ment of the co-work­ing space for an in­cu­ba­tor pro­gram and it is seek­ing a vol­un­teer to serve as a di­rec­tor/nav­i­ga­tor, with hopes that the po­si­tion will evolve into a paid job.

“The ad­vi­sory board will help us get to the next step,” Webb said.

Mem­bers of the new ad­vi­sory panel are: Webb, Ce­cil Col­lege Pres­i­dent Mary Way Bolt, Pat Swo­boda of Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground, Frank Cardo of Ce­cil County Pub­lic Schools and Neil Davis of TEDCO, a tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment cor­po­ra­tion cre­ated by the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly in 1998.

The en­tire in­cu­ba­tor ini­tia­tive be­gan about four years ago with vol­un­teer lead­er­ship pro­vided by the tech­nol­ogy sub­com­mit­tee of the county’s Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion (EDC).

That group hired a firm

ELK­TON

to do an in­cu­ba­tor fea­si­bil­ity study for Ce­cil County in 2014, which de­ter­mined the county had the right con­di­tions for an in­cu­ba­tor pro­gram to be suc­cess­ful.

Since com­plet­ing the study, the tech­nol­ogy sub­com­mit­tee has done more home­work on other in­cu­ba­tor pro­grams through vis­i­ta­tions and meet­ings in an ef­fort to gain in­for­ma­tion and sup­port.

“We al­ready have a net­work,” said said Nor­man Gaither, chair­man of the tech­nol­ogy sub­com­mit­tee of the Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Com­mis­sion, who along with other sub-com­mit­tee mem­bers, briefed the county coun­cil on the re­cent progress on Tues­day.

He noted that they al­ready have a vir­tual mak­erspace with APG and a co-work­ing space at Elk­ton Sta­tion.

“In­cu­ba­tors cut red tape out of start­ing a new busi­ness,” Gaither said, as he asked the coun­cil to con­sider fi­nan­cial sup­port in the fis­cal year 2018 bud­get.

Oc­cu­pants of the co-work­ing space would be re­quired to pay a fee for the space and sup­port to as­sure they have some “skin in the game,” he said. The co-work­ing space will pro­vide in­ter­net ac­cess, shared ad­min­is­tra­tive sup­port and nav­i­ga­tor ad­vice, he added.

“It looks like you’re kind of boot­strap­ping this to­gether,” Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Robert Hodge said, not­ing that some of CCPS cap­stone projects might qual­ify for in­cu­ba­tor space in the fu­ture. Other coun­cil mem­bers of­fered sup­port­ive words on Tues­day.

“There’s po­ten­tial out there,” Coun­cil­man Ge­orge Patchell said. “This would im­prove the qual­ity of life in our com­mu­nity.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CH­ERYL MATTIX

Carl Roberts, David Linthicum, Danny DeMari­nis, Nor­man Gaither and Mike Lara up­date the county coun­cil on the in­cu­ba­tor pro­gram.

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