by Kathy Cammarata
"We have everybody from soap makers to construction companies to a woman who sells fish out of a fish truck," says Debbie Metzler, running down a list of her incubator clients. Although this may sound like a hopelessly incompatible mix of businesses for one incubator, it's perfectly viable – for an incubator without walls.
Metzler oversees the Eastern Maine Incubator Without Walls as part of her job as a microenterprise specialist with the Eastern Maine Development Corp. Her client mix illustrates one of the key benefits of incubators without walls – flexibility. These programs aren't limited to a single focus or industry segment and some, like Metzler's, bring new meaning to the term "mixed use."
What exactly is an incubator without walls? It's a program that brings entrepreneurs together within their communities or regions without putting them into a building. More importantly, it provides them with all of the services and resources that a traditional bricks-and-mortar program does to help them grow successful businesses. Like their with-walls counterparts, incubators without walls vary in the way they deliver these services and in organizational structure.
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Keywords: client selection/admissions, incubator without walls, microenterprise, networking activities -- client, seminars and training programs, virtual incubation
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