Business planning

Carroll County Community
Development Corp pursue
business incubator concept

Don Ward

CARROLLTON, Ky. (February 2005) – In an effort to provide the resources and a prosperous climate for future business growth in the county, the Carroll County Community Development Corp has been researching the merits of establishing a business incubator site, similar to the one in nearby Madison, Ind.

Reno Deaton

Reno Deaton

But local officials want to avoid the problems experienced by the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce’s business incubator facility and are drawing on the expertise of the Northern Kentucky University business school by possibly partnering on the project. They plan to meet in February with the school’s yet-to-be-hired Associate Provost for Economic Development to explore the possibility of incubator-like services through technology and outreach. The corporation’s board recently met with other NKU officials.
A presentation on the plan was given by Jim Fothergill, representing the Commercial Committee, during the Jan. 20 annual shareholders’ meeting, held at Gen. Butler State Resort Park Conference Center in Carrollton.
Madison’s 40,000-square-foot Venture Out Business Center took nine years to develop and was built in 1996 with city and chamber funds, plus a $500,000 state grant as part of the Indiana’s decision to locate a division of the Small Business Development Center there. The chamber borrowed $100,000 to get the program started.
After visiting the facility in March and October, the committee found mixed results in the Madison chamber’s attempts to keep the facility occupied with business start-ups. To keep the facility rented, many start-ups were allowed to stay beyond their planned two-year incubator period.
“We don’t plan to kick anyone out unless we need the space for new business start-ups,” said Madison Area Chamber of Commerce president Jeff Garrett.
Today, much of Madison’s Venture Out Business Center is rented to Ivy Tech State College because of its overflow needs, The facility also houses the Madison chamber staff, the Southeastern Indiana Small Business Development Center office, the Indiana Department of Commerce’s Region 9 office, the Madison-Jefferson County Economic Development Corp., Jefferson County Board of Realtors office and SCORE – Service Corps of Retired Executives, plus seven small businesses.

Venture Out Building

Photo by Don Ward

The Venture Out Business Center
opened in Madison in 1996.

About 4,000 square feet of the building is used for offices and meeting space, Garrett said. Another 5,000 square feet is designated for use in a future Food Ventures commercial kitchen to be established there.
Despite the uncertainty in demand or the challenges experienced in Madison, the CCCDC committee said it is still interested in exploring the idea in Carrollton.
In other business, the committee visited Maysville, Ky., in an attempt to assess options for dealing with Carroll County’s loss of tobacco industry. Maysville is similar to Carrollton and also once enjoyed a robust tobacco industry, Fothergill said.
The committee saw an example of a new business moving into a former tobacco warehouse and expanded it for use as storage. Downtown Carrollton, meanwhile, has a large vacant lot on Highland Avenue where two tobacco warehouses once stood. Although he admits it would be nice to locate a new business there, CCCDC executive director Reno Deaton said it was not considered a priority of the non-profit organization.
“Instead, we are trying to operate on several levels to create a positive climate for businesses to exist and succeed in Carroll County,” said Deaton, 33, a Northern Kentucky native who took over the job five months ago. He succeeded Joey Graves, who departed for a similar job in Missouri.
Deaton has spent much of the year writing grant applications to obtain money so the CCCDC can accomplish its goals. By the end of January, Deaton will have applied for nearly $400,000 already this year, representing more money than the organization had applied for during all of last year, he said.
Most of the grant money applied are earmarked for improving housing and the parks and recreation facilities, he said, without elaborating.
In addition to the Commercial committee update by Fothergill, reports were presented by John Lackner of the Industry Committee and Dennis Raisor of the Quality of Life Committee.
Lackner cited several examples of local industrial growth, including Werner Ladder Co.’s decision to stay in Carrollton and expand rather than close its local plant. Raisor discussed the county’s improvements in health care and cited its growing educational needs. The committee also provided $10,000 to help Carroll County High School students obtain textbooks that were needed.
Raisor said the county has a high dropout rate among high schoolers, but added, “We looking at this problem to see how we can help out there.”
CCCDC president Ruth Baxter chaired the meeting and introduced guest speaker J.R. Wilhite, commissioner of the Department of Existing Business Development for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development in Frankfort.
Wilhite spoke briefly on the importance of serving the needs of existing businesses as well as trying to attract new businesses to the area.
The CCCDC concluded its meeting by electing new Board of Directors for 2005. They are: Mayor Ann Deatherage and Judge Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson (City, county government); Jim Fothergill and Bill Welty (Commercial); Malcolm Carraco and Roy Weeks (Financial); Stephen Jones and Dennis Raisor (Individual); Mike Gordon and John Lackner (Industrial); and Ruth Baxter (At Large).

• For more information, call the CCCDC at (502) 732-7035 or visit: www.carrollcountyky.com.

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