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Summary

Rural incubation programs face unique challenges, but many rural incubators provide clients with top-notch business assistance while balancing their budgets. NBIA will soon publish a book describing how rural incubation programs integrate incubation management practices to best serve client companies even with limited resources and small staffs. This article highlights a cross section of those programs and their management practices.

Incubating in rural North America: Successful programs in small communities

February/March 2013

by Bridget Lair

NBIA ReviewSuccessful incubation programs operate like the businesses they help  launch, whether they’re located in rural communities or more urban areas. When budgets are tight, best practice programs identify efficiencies to conserve scarce resources. But they also develop new programs and implement innovative ideas that can bring in additional revenue.

At the core of their success are principles essential to all business growth – experienced management, lean operations, attention to finances, market focus, customer buy-in and a highly developed supply chain. For incubation programs, that value-added chain also includes regional networks of contacts, service providers, training organizations, innovation resources, capital networks and other support.

Incubating Success, a 2011 research study conducted for the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and NBIA’s Best Practices in Rural Business Incubation: Successful Programs in Small Communities found that there is no one practice that helps incubators build strong companies and graduate clients. Instead, it’s the synergy of practices and policies that leads to incubation program success. Finding the right mix of policies, procedures and services can help a program meet its mission and goals while working within its resource constraints, even when the program is run by a single individual.

The case studies presented in NBIA’s newest publication, Best Practices in Rural Business Incubation, detail how rural programs that help build high-potential companies and effectively graduate clients integrate incubation best practices to meet their particular market needs and maximize (sometimes limited) program resources. As their stories illustrate, it’s through the interaction of those practices that they are able to serve client needs and accomplish their missions.

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This article also is available as a PDF Quick Reference document through the NBIA Bookstore.

Keywords: self-sustainability, best practices, incubator management – general, client services– general, facility management, financial management, rural incubator, incubator network

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