Small businesses employe more than half of the nation’s private sector workers and have, over the past two decades, created 65 percent of all new jobs in America.
The Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator and the Cleveland-Bradley Innovation Center is focused on fostering the start-up of new business ventures and growing entrepreneurs.
The center offers directives to help eliminate risks associated with the initial start-up — the time when new businesses are most vulnerable.
Business incubators nurture fledgling businesses through the critical points in their operations and continue to support the new enterprise until it develops into a flourishing business.
According to the Small Business Administration, well over half of all new businesses fail within the first five years.
“With incubators, those numbers greatly improve,” states Hurley Buff, CBBI/CBIC director.
“After five years, incubator-cultivated businesses are reporting an 85 percent survival rate.”
The Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator, which opened in August 2000, has assisted the start-up of more than 130 businesses.
CBBI has seen a wide mix of business entities and has housed everything from a bakery, to several attorneys, computer services, therapists, construction companies, and currently houses the only camera manufacturer in America.
The incubator saw its first expansion in 2008, but continued to maintain a 100 percent occupancy rate with several more waiting.
In December, 2011 CBBI unveiled the latest expansion to the incubator network, the Cleveland-Bradley Innovation Center.
“With the opening of the new Innovation Center, along with several recent graduates of the program,” Buff continues, “for the first time in over a decade we have space available and ready to lease to those wishing to pursue the dream of owning their own business.”
Business incubators provide low-cost office suites and industrial space; and affordable phone and Internet services. Additionally, the centers provide amenities such as a multi-media conference facility, administrative support, use of office equipment, and on-site mail service, all at no additional cost.
Both centers are situated on the campus of Cleveland State Community College, just one block from Interstate 75, and provide easy access to clients both locally and regionally.
Incubators provide added support to their tenants such as assistance with analyzing their books to ensure that everything is done properly.
“First-time business owners are always afraid of making mistakes, especially when it comes to accounting and finances,” Buff said.
Conveniently located next door to CBBI, tenants can find additional support services through the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State. Services provided by TSBDC include business counseling, business planning, training opportunities and marketing assistance, with most of these services provided free of charge.
Entrepreneurs also benefit from being surrounded by other new business owners.
“There’s a spirit of neighborliness in these halls,” said Buff. “So much so that we have direct competitors in our building that are helping each other and our tenants have even recently formed their own tenant network alliance.”
One such competitor is Jessica Carrasquillo, founder and president of Social Security Advocates and the first non-attorney case worker to begin working on behalf of disabled citizens in Cleveland.
After opening her business in the incubator facilities, her business broke even within six months — an impressive feat for any startup. But perhaps even more telling is that when a similar company, Disability Solutions, owned and operated by Janice Cruden opened in the building, Carrasquillo found herself collaborating with the owner, sharing her insights and receiving tips from the owner in return.
“If it hadn’t been for the incubator, I wouldn’t have been so successful so quickly. The high overhead of a new business can be overwhelming,” Carrasquillo said. “But what’s really made the difference is the support system of people around me. Whether I need help with accounting, advertising or computers, most likely, there’s a business in the incubator around to help, one that’s in the same boat as I am. It’s very comforting and encouraging.”
For more information about the Cleveland-Bradley Business Incubator and the Cleveland-Bradley Innovation Center, contact Hurley Buff, executive director, at 423-478-6476 or visit the website at www.cbbi.net.