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Rural incubators: Study examines what makes successful programs work

by Carol James

December 2000

Warning! Rural incubators face many obstacles.

That comes as no surprise. If it's not limited resources or a dearth of entrepreneurs, it's outdated technology or a lack of infrastructure.

Of course, successful rural incubation programs do exist. What are they doing to stand out? NBIA and the Ohio University (OU) College of Business have completed a groundbreaking study that identifies challenges that rural incubators must overcome, identifies characteristics of top-performing programs and outlines generally accepted business incubation best practices that are keys to success in any setting. The study, Identifying Obstacles to the Success of Rural Business Incubators, also makes recommendations to policy makers and incubator stakeholders to reduce problems and increase incubator contributions to the entrepreneurs and communities they serve (see "10 Steps to Success" below).

The study, funded by the Tennessee Valley Authority, was written by Dinah Adkins, NBIA president and CEO; Hugh Sherman, director of entrepreneurial programs for OU's Voinovich Center for Leadership and Public Affairs; and Christine Yost, a lecturer in management systems at OU, and will be published by NBIA. The authors describe it as "the most comprehensive study ever conducted of rural incubators and the obstacles to success that they face."

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Keywords: best practices, research -- incubation, rural incubator

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