With 26 years of experience and 410,000 square feet in seven buildings, the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago’s Fulton-Carroll Center is one of the oldest and largest incubation programs in the United States. But after a decade of success in the 1980s, the incubator fell on hard times in the 1990s. The incubator hired four different property management companies during that period, and the results weren’t good: Incubator services dwindled and clients lost their connection to each other and their community. By 2001, FCC was more like an office building in disrepair than a thriving incubation program, and many clients were delinquent on their rents.
A new century, though, brought new chances. Under the leadership of ICNC Executive Director Joyce Shanahan, the council resumed direct control of the incubator. In 2002, ICNC took out a $3.25 million line of credit (and launched a major capital campaign) to begin long-term building improvements. ICNC also took steps to shore up FCC’s incubation focus, including opening an on-site Small Business Development Center.
The result? FCC now operates at 95 percent occupancy, and its finances have grown stronger each year. Building revenue increased by nearly $400,000 between 2002 and 2004, and program income has grown in both aggregate amount and diversity of sources. And delinquencies have decreased from 32 percent in 2003 to less than 8 percent in 2004.
ICNC now is raising funds to rehab and equip a commercial kitchen incubator at FCC, and the organization recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to revamp a revolving loan fund for microenterprise clients.
Phone: (740) 593-4331
Fax: (740) 593-1996
PO Box 959
Athens, OH 45701-1565