Shaun Ashman

Shaun Ashman

Incubator open for business

Downtown Trail business hub accepting entrepreneurs

Three companies have already taken advantage of Trail’s new business incubator, which celebrated its grand opening Tuesday.

Called the South Kootenay Business Centre, the space helps new firms survive the vulnerable and costly business start-up phase.

Alleviating expenses like long-term leases, business signage, leasehold improvements, business equipment and furniture purchases, entrepreneurs can focus their time and resources on business development rather than getting established.

A chorus of oohs and ahs could be heard at the centre as about 40 individuals toured the facility – poking their heads into the offices where work was already underway.

A.M. Ford owner Dan Ashman is pleased to have two of his businesses taking advantage of the turn-key office spaces. AC Global Systems, which looks to enhance the safety of lone workers with technology like its tracking and remote shutdown system for transport trucks, and AutoCanada.com, an online portal for all aspects related to the auto industry, are situated side-by-side.

Chahat Enterprises, a construction company responsible for building many of the homes behind Waneta Plaza, has also set up shop in one of the 15 fully-furnished office spaces available on a graduated-rental policy.

“We need a fast Internet connection; that’s what led us here,” said Mathew Potter, a member of a three-person team operating AutoCanada.com from Trail. “That’s the beauty of it, you can work anywhere you want as long as you have fast Internet.”’

Along with access to a shared boardroom, printers, projectors and other office equipment, the hub hooks businesses up to the city’s high-capacity fibre optics network backbone.

Fast Internet, plus access to on-site video conference facilities, additional meeting rooms, modern computer labs and a business library are some of the other perks beyond in-house business training and mentorship offered by staff.

“It gives you a step up when getting started,” said Penny Raeburn, who works alongside Potter. “They do it all for you, and all you have to do is move in.”

Entrepreneurs can move into an office, starting as low as $305 a month, with the expectation that the cost will gradually increase over a course of three years – the maximum amount of time a business can grow in the incubator.

“(Community Futures Development Corporation) has been an active business person in our community and without them so many initiatives would not have taken place,” said Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs, congratulating the organization on its efforts over the years. “What other organization would give up their headquarters?”

Bogs was referring to how Community Futures had a similar setup in Glenmerry for 23 years but moved out of that space to make room for another growing business — Firebird Technologies Inc., which will soon relocate to a new 17-acre lot and 40,000 square foot building in Trail’s industrial area.

With a $100,000 contribution from the Columbia Basin Trust and financial backing from the Rural Economic Diversification Initiative and the Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust, the CFDC project got underway as soon as the organization relocated to the building on Spokane Street a couple years ago.

Renovations to the lower floor of the building have been on the go for the past nine months in preparation for Tuesday’s launch.

“This new centre will help further economic development opportunity for entrepreneurs of our region,” said CBT board member Bill Trewhella. “We commend you on your dedication to bringing this project to fruition.”

The business centre is a business development program run by Community Futures of Greater Trail, a not-for-profit corporation with 26 years of local business mentorship experience. Community Futures is supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada.

For more information on the centre, visit www.skbc.ca or contact Craig Adams at 364-2595, ext. 22, or email him at craig@communityfutures.com