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As more states include entrepreneurship initiatives in their legislative priorities, they also recognize the important role business incubators can play in creating thriving business communities. Learn how state funds are being used to support incubation efforts around the country, and get some ideas on how to lobby for similar programs in your state.

Across state lines: U.S. incubators report how state governments support business incubation

by Linda Knopp

August 2008

In 2006 Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell signed SB 702, An Act Concerning Jobs for the 21st Century, into law. The bill, commonly referred to as the jobs bill, includes $1 million for the state’s incubators and millions more for programs that support innovation and business development in Connecticut. In all, the legislation includes $100 million in funding to encourage entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses in the state.

As more states recognize the important role business incubators play in creating a thriving business community, incubation professionals hope to see this scene play out across the country. “Incubation is the third leg of economic development, just as recruitment and retention are [the first two],” says Carol Ann Dykes, chief operating officer at the University of Central Florida Technology Incubator in Orlando. But historically, many state government agencies have invested their economic development dollars into luring existing companies into their areas rather than growing their own new businesses.

Over time, though, more and more states have included entrepreneurship support and other business creation initiatives among their legislative priorities. Each year, several state of the state addresses highlight governors’ plans to promote business development in their regions. And much to the delight of incubation professionals around the country, many of these plans include programs to support business incubators.

The availability and level of support for business incubators can vary from one year to the next, depending on budget constraints and the state leaders’ interests. Although the information in this article is far from exhaustive, it does provide a representative overview of the types of incubation support activities offered throughout the United States.

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Keywords: advocacy, budget -- incubator, economic development, economic impact, financial management -- incubator, funding sources/fundraising -- incubator, impact of incubation, stakeholder development, stakeholder relationship management

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