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Making a difference: William Factory incubator improves living, working conditions in Tacoma

by Linda Knopp

December 2005

The William M. Factory Small Business Incubator has come a long way since it started in a vacant restaurant in Tacoma, Wash., nearly 20 years ago. After a series of moves into a variety of leased spaces – none of which were conducive to client networking – the mixed-use incubator relocated in 2003 into its own 20,000-square-foot building, just three blocks from its original site.

The new $3.2 million facility, one of the most technologically advanced office buildings in the Puget Sound region, has 20 client offices, more than 100 workstations and four conference rooms. The building also features a fiber-optic communications system, an interior parking garage, and balconies overlooking Mount Rainier and Commencement Bay. But despite their classy new digs, incubator staff haven’t forgotten the program’s roots.

In its nearly 20-year history, the incubator has graduated more than 200 companies; 78 percent of those firms remain in business or have successfully merged. During the last year alone, incubator clients have created nearly 300 jobs, many of which benefit residents of East Tacoma.

In recognition of the incubator’s accomplishments, NBIA presented the William Factory program with the 2005 Incubator of the Year award in the mixed-use category at NBIA’s 19th International Conference on Business Incubation in Baltimore. Read on to learn how the incubator benefits both its clients and its neighborhood.

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Keywords: best practices, social entrepreneurship

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