The Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator’s staff welcomed representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development office as they celebrated receiving a Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the office.
Bobby Goode, state director at the USDA department, spoke about the impact he believed the grant would have statewide — not just locally.
“It’s great for Tennessee because small business is good for our local economies,” Goode said at the event. “We’re glad to help small businesses any way we can.”
Goode said he had traveled all around the state for similar events and liked the fact his office was providing funding to help owners of small-town businesses and organizations. Later in the afternoon, Goode and his colleagues made a trip to Charleston to award a grant to the Hiwassee River Heritage Center.
The USDA offers some 40 different grant programs from eight different offices in Tennessee — including the Rural Development office in Chattanooga. Organizations that submit proposals to be considered for the grants are scored and ranked on various factors like financial need and how many jobs the organizations create.
Goode said what likely gave the Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator an edge when applying for the grant was the state’s interest in creating jobs.
“Any business incubator scores pretty high in that category,” he said.
Hurley Buff, executive director of the business incubator, said another USDA grant helped the Innovation Center to be built in 2011. The Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator was founded in 2000 as a way to make office and manufacturing space available for new businesses to rent at prices that worked with their small company budgets until they could “graduate” and move elsewhere.
In December 2011, the incubator cut the ribbon on a new facility called the Cleveland Bradley Innovation Center, which focuses on tenants with “green” businesses using environmentally sound practices.
While both centers are adjacent to Cleveland State Community College property, neither are part of the college itself. One office assists more than 40 tenants in two facilities, and Buff said the money would help with the goal of promoting small business in the Cleveland area.
“With such a small staff — mostly me — it wouldn’t be possible to undertake what I do without the Chattanooga office,” Buff said.
Buff explained how the grant money would be used for a two-part project. He said he wanted to provide professional training classes to the incubator’s tenants and also have the funds to promote the incubator’s mission in the community.
Beau Burris, president of the business incubator, also expressed his thanks to the USDA for the grant.
After the speeches had been spoken, everyone in attendance had the opportunity to tour four of the Innovation Center’s businesses.
One created automated machinery to make other companies’ manufacturing more efficient. One installed insulation to increase energy efficiency in homes, schools and businesses. One made functional art pieces like platters, trays and jewelry from recycled glass. Still another made spa and aromatherapy products from a space that had been outfitted with materials like reclaimed wood. All of them were small businesses that had begun to grow in the incubator.
For more information about the Cleveland Bradley Business Incubator, visit it online at www.cbbi.net.