Incubator program hatches new businesses
by Frank Manning
Press-Courier Staff Writer

VENTURA - The county of Ventura is launching a business "incubator" program to help entrepreneurs start their own businesses.

Those deemed eligible for the program would have available to them a wide range of consultants to answer questions ranging from obtaining financing to balancing payrolls, said Victoria Hand, manager of the Recycling Section of the county.

"The professional consultants help you make business plans to avoid the mistakes that beginning businesses often make," she said.

Incubator programs often place various entrepreneurs together under the same roof to help cut their overhead costs, she said.   They can share phone and light bills, for instance.

However, the county prefers to work with businesses that would use recycled materials in the manufacturing process, said Hand.

"We're trying to create a market for recyclable material,"she said. "That's our mandate."

There are low-interest loans available to businesses that locate in industrial areas of Ventura County, including Oxnard, Camarillo and Simi Valley, she said.  The only requirement is that they use recycled materials in the manufacturing process.

"The money can be used to purchase equipment or land, or whatever," she said.  "Basically, you can use it for anything."

The county is seeking business people willing to help the program by donating time to advise would-be entrepreneurs, said Hand, who recently presented the idea to the Council on Economic Vitality, a committee of Ventura County business and government people, trying to improve the county's economy.

"We thought if we wanted to get some support for the incubator program, (the council) is a good place to start, because this group is looking for projects that will help foster economic development in the county," she told council members.

One consultant who has already signed on, Mari Riddle, director of community development for El Concilio del Dondado de Ventura, said she like the incubator program because it can help women and minority entrepreneurs get their start in business.

"The incubators allow you to have a balance of people who have the expertise, with people who are just coming up the ranks," she said.

One council member, Lance Winslow, say he wishes he could have been in an incubator program six years ago, when he was struggling to build his portable car wash business, The Car Wash Guys.

Winslow said the expert advice offered by incubator programs could have helped him avoid a lot of mistakes.

"If I could have had an incubator, I probably would have succeeded the first year, instead of waiting until this year," said Winslow.

Reprinted from Press-Courier, August 28, 1992.

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