Has Jackson’s first business incubator arrived on the scene?
It may have, but do the artists and activists involved know it?
Lane, that is. 6,500 square feet in the facility formerly home to Huckleberry Mountain Candy Company. Teton Art Lab is the new landlord. The group is reportedly sub-renting space to MADE’s John Frechette, who will use the space as his studio (he’s not moving out of his retail shop in Gaslight Alley); to artist Ben Roth, who will also use his corner as studio space, and to blogger/filmmaker/photographer/activist David Gonzales—word has it that Gonzales plans to capture artists creating and composing, and post it to his site. Abbie Miller has been down there, sewing her heart out; and a musical group emulating the Greatful Dead has set up rehearsal space.
That’s a factory! A huge Warhol fan, Walker may have subconsciously (or consciously) established his own arts assembly line. “The Incubator.” “The Assembly.” The new location is certainly not a great foot traffic/retail space, but that could change. And maybe Jackson’s town leaders will take notice. If ArtLab and its tenants succeed in their mission, they will nurture new artists, new business and talent. And product.
Business incubators often get established because communities donate empty, excessive space. Business incubators can be industrial, high-tech, medical, artistic, even food growers. The idea, says one expert, is to set up a commercial building capable of housing different operations and industries at low cost. Incubators supply in-house office help to all tenants—copy machines, answering phones, teaching technology skills. Assistance continues until fledgling businesses are developed enough to move out of the space on their own. Cost of doing business is lowered. The vacated incubator space is filled by a new, young enterprise.
ChubbyBrain, a tool resource for business entrepreneurs, posted a United States map that in 2009, highlighted states with incubators. Maps measure total number, distribution and “scalability.” ChubbyBrain’s totals map is shown here. The site also graphs 2009’s top ten incubators. Healthcare offers the most, followed by technology and internet companies.
Incubators are measured several ways, but Wyoming, as of 2009, had zero incubator presence.
“We funded an incubator with a USDA grant which purchased the building,” says my expert. “We then set up a non profit corporation with the board being half private and half government. The government board members were mayors and commissioners. It is important to get real business expertise on this board. Activists have the vision but not often the practical skills to make it happen.”
Well, we need business experts. We’re loaded with activists in Jackson, so what we need are business strategists acting in the interest of diversifying (lessening risk) Jackson’s economy. Leaders should look to establish tax breaks for properties that can’t, in the immediate future, realize full value for their space.
Risk happens not only when you carry potentially volatile investments; it exists when you invest in mainstream, blue-chip sectors—if that’s your only portfolio presence, you are carrying great risk. Ask anyone loaded with BP stock or too much empty, expensive commercial and residential real estate in Teton County.
My expert councils that the best way to start is to visit established, successful incubators. Many aren’t viable because they are not grounded in solid business basics.To provide a job, a business (or any enterprise) must be successful enough to generate plenty of worthwhile income.
CIAO Gallery has put out a call for entries for “Autumn Leaves – Works Inspired by the Fall.” Deadline is October 29, 2010. Artists are invited to submit their entries to the gallery by visiting CIAO’s website and clicking on the “Call to Artists” page. There, you will find instructions. www.ciaogallery.com. Good luck!