A half-dozen emerging businesses will set up in a “business incubator” building in Ketchum on Feb. 1 with the help of $28,000 from the city and a flexible lease from the building’s landlord.
On Tuesday, the Ketchum City Council unanimously approved the funding to offset operating expenses of the local entrepreneurs.
Ketchum Community Development Corp. Executive Director Jon Duval explained to council members the numerous benefits of the facility at 100 Lindsey Circle, just off Saddle Road in the light-industrial area.
“We’re trying to help individuals that are looking to collaborate and work with other entrepreneurs,” Duval said. “Really, it’s a mindset to get companies that are looking for much more than just cheap office space. They don’t want to just work at home or in an office. They want to work around like-minded people to foster creativity and energy.”
He added that he chose the space after scouting out numerous locations.
“The tenants will have a beautiful, collaborative space to work in,” he said. “They’re expected to have a flexible business plan and a scalable business model (the ability to expand). Also, we have a real desire to collaborate and help other entrepreneurs along with venture capital funding.”
Duval also explained that the landlord of the property is very supportive of what the CDC is trying to do, and will not require anyone to sign a long-term lease.
“A great thing about this is that there’s no long-term commitment,” Duval said. “If this is not working, we can walk away, no harm, no foul. That goes for the tenants as well—if it doesn’t work out for them, then they can step away.”
“The tenants will have a beautiful, collaborative space to work in.”
Rick LeFaivre, former vice president of advanced technologies at Apple, also voiced steadfast support for the incubator.
“Over the last 15 years as a venture incubator, I’ve seen the power of what happens if this is done right,” LeFaivre said. “My sense is here that it would be very difficult to attract the capital for a profit incubator at this time. When you think about the businesses that are being incubated, this becomes more of a community resource, a place for entrepreneurs, investors and mentors to meet.”
LeFaivre said there are young people who want to move to the Wood River Valley, but the problem has been finding jobs for them. Thus, he sees the incubator as an opportunity to attract more aspiring young business professionals to the area.
In addition to the work the CDC has put into the project, Sustain Blaine has also worked on putting together a local investment strategy and mentor list to help the incubator.
“We had a working group thinking about how we could do more locally,” Sustain Blaine Executive Director Harry Griffith said. “We’ve thought about how to take this from nothing to something. Then we had an epiphany that this provides the base to build on top of venture networks remotely. We think that this is a space with people looking for support and bringing investment to the table.”
Duval said the lease will begin Feb. 1, and he and five or six as-yet undisclosed entrepreneurs will begin moving in then with the hope of being fully up and running by the end of the month.
Eric Avissar: firstname.lastname@example.org