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Indian tribe unites business development efforts

June/July 2012

Roseburg, Ore., is at the center of what local tourism officials call “The Land of Umpqua.” The region’s cold, clear steams draw trout anglers from all over the world, and its fertile mountainsides yield picturesque wineries, fueling the dominant industry of the region – tourism.

The region is also home to the indigenous Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians’ lucrative Seven Feathers Casino and Resort. The third-largest employer in the Roseburg area, the tribe invests its profits in a variety of ways, including the new Umpqua Business Center, which opened in late spring.

Unlike some other incubation programs sponsored by Indian tribes, the Umpqua center is neither exclusively retail in focus nor limited to tribal enterprises. Instead, the tribe’s resources are put to work in an incubation program serving the whole region.

“While the tribe was the catalyst for the whole business incubation push, it is not a tribal incubator,” says Rene Toman, interim executive director of the center. “The 17-member board of directors includes the tribal chairman, but also a county commissioner and the city manager. It’s about regional economic development for everyone. The tribe brought together a far bigger collaboration in this program.”

Local partners in the incubator include the Douglas County Industrial Board, the city of Roseburg, Umpqua Community College, CCD Business Development Corp., the Coalition for Good Governance, the Economic Development Partnership, and Umpqua Training and Employment. “This is a partnership working to diversify the businesses in what is a very tourist-oriented area,” says Toman.

The first floor of the two-story building is home to the data center of Rio Networks, the tribe’s telecommunications company. “They are our anchor tenant,” says Toman. “They are an important part of the revenue stream.” Available in the Rio Networks data center is leasable rack space for information technology companies at the incubator.

The goal was to bring together everything a new or small-but-growing business would need in one place. Also housed in the building are the Umpqua Community College’s Small Business Development Center, a regional EDA office, the Douglas County Economic Development Partnership and more than 12,500 square feet of incubation space. This comprises 28 offices with phone and data access, a 30-seat conference room, a print and copy center, and public-access computers, as well as small conference rooms, secure loading and staging areas, and break areas. The facility has its own redundant power generation system and elaborate security.

In addition to client office space there are meeting and coworking areas that, after hours, are made available to community groups. “Our Community Connect rooms are available after hours to nonprofit organizations,” Toman adds. “We really are hoping to be the area’s one-stop community business development center.”—Dennis E. Powell

NBIA Review

Umpqua Business Center in Roseburg, Ore., offers business development services to tribal and nontribal enterprises.

Keywords: incubator development - general

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