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A free or low-cost building may seem like a plus for your program, but an inappropriate or poorly located facility can be more trouble than it's worth. Here's how to decide whether renovating an existing structure makes sense for you.

Assessing potential incubator facilities: What to look for and when to say, ‘No thanks’

by Linda Knopp

August 2005

Renovating an existing structure for use as a business incubator can be a cost-effective alternative to new construction. But selecting an appropriate facility in which to operate is not as simple as finding an empty building to move into. Although a business incubation program is much more than a building, an inappropriate facility can put an otherwise well-planned program in jeopardy.

Incubator developers (or managers planning to move into different facilities) must assess potential sites carefully, keeping in mind the specific needs of the businesses they will assist. Does the building offer all of the amenities your clients will need? If not, will it be possible and affordable to upgrade the facility to meet those needs? Is it in a good location? Is it big enough? Is it too big? Is there adequate off-street parking? If the answers are no, the facility likely isn’t a good candidate – even if a local organization or government agency offers it to you at low or no cost.

Read on for advice about assessing facilities for potential use as incubators from incubator managers and consultants who have scoped out their share of old buildings in recent years.

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Keywords: facility management, facility renovation/expansion, facility selection/construction/renovation, specialized equipment/facilities

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