National Business Incubation Association; Your source for knowledge and networks in business incubation

When the going gets tough

by Kristin Woeste

August 2002

Success in assisting start-ups, creating jobs and having a positive economic impact on a community doesn't necessarily translate into success for an incubator. Just ask John Palmquist, former manager of Foodworks Culinary Center in Arcata, Calif., and Woody Maggard, president and CEO of Arizona Technology Incubator (ATI) in Scottsdale.

Both cite funding struggles and poor communication among problems that led their incubation programs into rough waters. Yet both can point to statistics that any incubator manager would be proud of. Foodworks' program assisted 22 start-ups, creating more than 140 jobs. The incubator also aided another 25 to 30 businesses each year in its shared-use community kitchen. So far, ATI has won several national awards, graduated 20 companies and delivered more than $100 million in total economic impact to its community from only $3.3 million in funding.

Despite those successes, both programs are dry-docked while they're being rebuilt. Palmquist and Maggard both can offer hard-earned advice to help other incubator managers steer clear of stormy seas and strengthen their incubation vessels.

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Keywords: financial management -- incubator, incubator failure, stakeholder development, stakeholder relationship management, strategic partnerships

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