April 23, 2014
11:50 pm

Business Incubator Introduced

When Perry Ballard served on the Cornerstone Alliance Board of Directors he was an outspoken advocate for creation of a small business incubator.  Even when others turned a deaf ear to his lobbying, he continued to contend that the community was ripe for such a facility to help entrepreneurs and business start-ups to get legs at a critical time in their business development.

I don't honestly know if Perry still serves on that board anymore or not, but now it becomes a moot point since Perry and his privately owned Ballard Management, LLC will dedicate a portion of his office building on the periphery of the Edgewater District in St. Joseph to new businesses and an actual, working incubator.

Perry tells me that his first lease back in 1978 was at an incubator-style rate, although its unlikely there was a formal incubator concept at that time.  He cites the below-market rate, short lease commitment and absence of utility bills as critical to his ability to have a professional office despite his three-person operation. 

Ballard was the long-time owner of Perry Ballard Incorporated, an agency that he sold to Gary Tipton back in 2004.  Tipton recently moved the company to The Box Factory for the Arts in St. Joseph and has since renamed the firm to Fathom Works.  As a result, Ballard's former building at 526 Upton Drive in St. Joseph has been unoccupied since late last year.  In the interim, the building has seen a variety of maintenance projects which would have proven disruptive to normal business operations, but now it's ready for its debut.

There are 25 individual offices in the building, considerable basement storage space, and over 40 on-site parking slots.  The property is commercially zoned under a recently signed Conditional Zoning Agreement with the City of St. Joseph.

The building's first year incubator lease rates have been purposely set about one-third below average rates for business office space in the city, according to Ballard.  He defines an incubator tenant as, "one in the first year of operation, or in the first year of a move from a home-based business."  In addition, if a tenant has interest, periodic on-site mentoring sessions will be available at no additional charge through Ballard's role with the local chapter of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives.  Potential topics for such sessions could include annual planning, financial management, and marketing/sales concepts among others.

Firms or anticipated firms interested in exploring the incubator option are free to contact Perry at 269-449-8899 for a tour of the building and detailed options available. 

Incubator space will only comprise part of the building on Upton Drive.  Other office space is available for lease at market rates by contacting Ballard at that same number. 

The concept holds a great deal of merit, inasmuch as Ballard has personally counseled more than 100 planned or recently launched businesses since his retirement from the marketing agency that bore his name for several decades.
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Topics : Business_Finance