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NBIA's new CEO talks about the future of business incubation

February/March 2013

NBIA ReviewIn mid-February, NBIA’s board of directors named Jasper Welch of Durango, Colo., the organization’s new president and CEO. He is the third person to hold that post in the association’s 28-year history. He has also been an NBIA member, having served as director of the San Juan College Enterprise Center in Farmington, N.M., for a dozen years beginning in 1999. He is co-founder of a coworking space in Durango, a serial entrepreneur and a former elected official. Soon after his appointment as NBIA CEO, he took time to talk with the NBIA Review staff and answer a few questions.

NBIA Review: As you step into the leadership of NBIA, have you any thoughts as to what the organization is doing well and where it might improve?

Welch: NBIA has always done a good job in advocacy, but we need to step it up a little bit. We have to be member-driven – we are a membership organization, and my approach is that we need to meet or exceed our members’ expectations. We also need to work on our financial capacity as an association. To support NBIA’s mission, we need to develop proper funding levels through membership, through our events, through sponsorships, through training, and through contracts or grants. If NBIA’s financial capacity is limited, our impact is going to be limited. And it is clear that we have unlimited opportunities and a job to do for our members. We really need to reach out to our stakeholders because if business incubators are successful in communities, everything should be more successful. From an NBIA staff perspective, it’s all about how we support our membership and our stakeholders. From a board perspective, it’s about how we successfully communicate the needs of the members, not just to staff, but also to our stakeholders.

NBIA Review: How will you approach these opportunities for NBIA?

Welch: My effectiveness as NBIA’s new executive leader is going to be a result of my working relationship with the staff and my working relationship with the board. The relationship goal that I’m working toward with both the professional staff and the elected board is a work in progress, but I’m making a significant investment in that goal because it’s everything. And because NBIA stakeholders strongly influence our funding, facilities, staff and so on, I plan on reaching out to business incubation stakeholders as well. A stakeholder, in my definition, is someone who has a stake in our success. Right now, we have other economic development organizations, we have all of the universities and other sponsors of incubators – they have a stake in our success. They want their incubators to be successful.

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Keywords: incubation associations, NBIA events, people

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