Downtown group seeks input on small-business incubatorRed Wing Downtown Main Street is seeking input on plans to set up a small business incubator in Red Wing.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing Downtown Main Street is seeking input on plans to set up a small business incubator in Red Wing.
The local non-profit will host an open house at 7 p.m. Thursday at Sarah's restaurant, where it will hold a presentation on the organization's fledgling business incubator and seek in-put regarding how the program should be molded.
"It's still kind of squishy," said John Becker, Downtown Main Street vice president. "We're putting together what this thing is going to look like."
The idea behind the program is to encourage would-be entrepreneurs to pursue their ideas, he said.
"It's good to have that new young blood," said Shannon Harris, Downtown Main Street president.
Downtown Main Street has been awarded a grant from Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation to help start the program. The group also has partnered with the Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce, Red Wing Port Authority, Xcel Energy and Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical to raise funds.
Together the organizations and companies hope to establish an incubator that will be more than just a workspace, Becker said. He'd like to see the program provide entrepreneurs with professional services, specific pieces of infrastructure and offer basic guidance for running a small business.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of unknowns. Among them are:
• What kind of business will the incubator seek to attract?
• Who will oversee the program's vetting process?
• How will the successful applicants be chosen?
• Where will future funding for the program come from?
Becker said Downtown Main Street is looking to follow in the footsteps of Littleton, Colo., and Fairfield, Iowa -- communities that have successfully grown entrepreneurial businesses within city limits -- a model Becker referred to as "economic gardening."
"The larger goal is to make Red Wing a more exciting place to do business," Becker said.