W&M's TBC teams with JCC EDA to improve incubator

  • Bill BeanBean, director of W&M's Technology and Business Center, will serve a one-year term as VBIA president. The year is off to a good start, membership is up 20% so far and the association will host their annual conference Oct. 24-25.

    Photo by Suzanne Seurattan

    Bill Bean

The James City County Economic Development Authority (EDA) will join forces with the College of William and Mary to help expand the reach of its business incubator. The re-engineered approach, which will now be managed by William & Mary’s Technology and Business Center (TBC), will broaden the reach of the incubator to select businesses that may not necessarily be technology oriented. The project’s name will also change to the James City County Business and Technology Incubator, officials announced today.

“Our affiliation with a highly regarded university like William & Mary should be a real plus”, said Brien Craft, the EDA’s liaison to the incubator project and General Manager of Walmart’s Import Distribution Center in James City County.  “It will give us better access to the resources of the university and enhance our credibility in the eyes of our future clientele.”

While the incubator, located at 5300 Palmer Lane, had a successful launch during 2007, the number of new technology business clients in Year 3 of the incubator’s operation fell short of the EDA’s expectations.  “We took a long hard look at our business model there and what was and wasn’t working”, remarked Brien Craft, the EDA’s liaison to the incubator project and General Manager of Walmart’s Import Distribution Center in the County. “Upon the recommendation of the former management team, the Hampton Roads Technology Council (HRTC), we decided to broaden both the brand and the operational approach to the business incubator and reach out to other additional kinds of primary business interests.”

A recent example of this is the January arrival of MODU-System America, LLC, as the incubator’s newest resident.  This two-person operation will be the start of the US subsidiary for the Malaysian-based parent company, MODU System, which manufactures and sells multi-flex modular conveyor systems.  According to John J. Douglas, Vice President of Sales for MODU System America, “The geographic location here is strategic to our efforts to penetrate the US market, and the incremental office space approach that the incubator provides gives us the flexibility to grow as our market share and employee needs grow here.  We can also learn more about the in’s and out’s of establishing a foreign-based subsidiary here through the incubator’s advisory services.”

William & Mary’s TBC management team intends to build on this kind of recent success at the James City incubator.  “With the EDA’s support, we intend to provide more mentoring services on a broader variety of core business knowledge needs areas in a more structured approach”, said William E. “Bill” Bean, TBC’s Director.  “Each company selected for incubation will have to satisfy some basic criteria relative to what and where its business model or business plan is in terms of evolution.  We will then customize a menu of program milestones for each of them to achieve in order to graduate.”

Timothy J. Early, HRTC’s Executive Director, noted, “We believe this is the right step for James City County’s EDA to take.  HRTC has offered to continue to provide advisory support to the incubator and its clients as needs warrant.”

The restructured management agreement and approach will run through March of 2011 at which time the EDA and the TBC will collectively evaluate their success in terms of building the client base and client maturation in their respective business endeavors.

Entrepreneurs   who would like to find out more about becoming an incubator client should contact Bill Bean at 757-221-7825 or webean@wm.edu.

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