In the fall of 1983, Candace Campbell was assigned the task of finding out what groups, other than Control Data Corp., were developing business incubators and how they were doing it. Ten months later she published the first national survey of business incubation, profiling 50 facilities in the United States and Canada. In mid-1984 she found herself "catapulted into expertdom," as she puts it, sharing her findings in front of a standing-room-only crowd of more than 500 at the first national conference on business incubation. Business Incubator Profiles, the book that resulted from her research, offered incubation professionals their first look at what others in the industry were doing (before then they didn’t even know how to get in touch with one another). Campbell was 26.
Her name would become virtually synonymous with business incubation in the years that followed. She shared her research findings at as many as four conferences a month and worked closely with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to develop the first programs and training materials on business incubation. At the age of 28, Campbell was quoted, along with David Allen, in a front-page above-the-fold article in The Wall Street Journal on the impact of business incubation. Soon after, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation asked her to lead a research project tracking the progress of more than 500 firms from the nation’s longest-running incubators to evaluate their effectiveness on job creation. Campbell’s efforts resulted in another industry milestone &mdash the publication of Change Agents in the New Economy, the first work to provide baseline data and measures of success for the industry.
After her years in academia, Campbell decided to "practice what she preached." She consulted on 30 or so incubator projects throughout the country and worked on several state and local programs for incubator and small business development. She joined the NBIA board of directors in 1988, playing a key role in the restructuring of the organization, and in 1992 became board chairman. During her term she represented the industry at meetings throughout the world.
Campbell later founded CDC Associates to work with public- and private-sector clients on issues related to economic and new business development, and was adjunct associate at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, where she taught courses in community economic development and project management. She also worked with the Green Institute, a Minneapolis-based community economic development corporation developing an environmental incubator. That led to her current position as vice president, sustainability programs, for Avant Energy Services in Minneapolis, which provides energy management services to public utilities, universities and other large energy users.
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