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home : news : business   May 27, 2016

12/3/2013 11:30:00 AM
Incubator program for businesses on successful path

An open house is set for 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Opportunity Knocks, a business incubator, which is home to three businesses: Round 2, CrossFit 56 and CyberTech Securities. It is at 21 Park Ave. East, Princeton.NewsTribune photo/Katlyn Rumbold
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An open house is set for 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Opportunity Knocks, a business incubator, which is home to three businesses: Round 2, CrossFit 56 and CyberTech Securities. It is at 21 Park Ave. East, Princeton.
NewsTribune photo/Katlyn Rumbold
Katlyn Rumbold
Princeton Bureau Chief

PRINCETON — Are you an entrepreneur looking to launch a new business? Are you feeling overwhelmed, not knowing where to begin? If so, you do not want to miss  Opportunity Knocks open house sponsored by Princeton Chamber of Commerce 5-7 p.m. Wednesday in the business incubator, 21 Park Ave. East, Princeton.

Opportunity Knocks is an affordable home and resource for start-up businesses, providing low cost office and retail space, business planning and support tools in a downtown location, according to chamber officials. As a project of the chamber and founded with seed funding by local businesses, Opportunity Knocks represents a helping hand extended by the business community.

“The whole idea behind Opportunity Knocks is to be a resource,” said Princeton Chamber Board president Rex Conger. “It gives a new business the opportunity to start and grow slowly over time. We provide the space and support, but really it’s them running their own business. We also encourage them to grow their own business so that eventually they’re ready to leave the nest and move to a space on Main Street.”

Tenants will pay a starting combined monthly rent and utility rate of $300-450/month depending on the amount of square footage they require. This is 60 percent or more below the current Main Street rates. Leases will be for six month increments, half the duration of a standard lease. A team of qualified professionals are available to each tenant to provide assistance and advice with finance, insurance, legal, marketing, business planning and retail knowledge.

Currently, there are three businesses in the incubator: Round 2-consignment shop, Cross Fit 56-fitness center and Cyber Tech Securities. Chamber executive director Kim Frey expects the businesses to be incubating for approximately two years before they move to Main Street, just to be sure they will be successful. Incubation time depends on the businesses as each moves at its own speed.

“I think anytime you’re starting a business, it is so overwhelming trying to think of all the things you need to have figured out,” Frey said. “We’re simply the tool to help you get started. We’ll give you the resources to make it happen. Another thought we had is that one of our businesses that are incubating could eventually take over the business incubator building. That would be a huge step for a business because of the opportunities we provided.”

Retail space available for tenants includes the front half of the building that contains nine 12 by 12 units for retail use; private office space in the middle section of the building that contains three 12 by 12 offices available that open into a shared meeting room; and industrial space for a tenant who requires a workshop or nonpublic workspace. Tenants may improve, decorate and alter their rental unit to suit their needs upon submitting business plans to the board and its subsequent approval.

Opportunity Knocks provides up-to-date signage listing the current tenants on the front of the building as well as side entrances for office tenants. Retail tenants are provided a section of the front window for product display. Office tenants will be listed in the front window as well.

Wednesday’s open house will provide the opportunity for any interested entrepreneurs to mingle with professionals while touring the business incubator. It also serves as an opportunity for those who have contributed financially to see where their money is being used.

“When we were putting this together, we were soliciting contributors to help us come up with the money so we could start the incubator,” Conger said. “This is also an opportunity for those people who contributed funds in the beginning to see what happened with their money. I think it’s very exciting just to see the change in an empty building now with three thriving businesses inside.”

Frey added, “We want to showcase the success of our project. The consignment shop is a very affordable way for people to shop, especially with the way the economy has gone. CrossFit 56 is bringing in a whole new type of people. It’s really a great way to work out. CyberTech Securities are conceal carry classes that is a topic that has hit an all time high in Illinois especially.”

This program was developed by  Princeton Retail Development Group, a not-for-profit organization consisting of volunteers from various backgrounds working under the guidance of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce. Group members include Rick Clary, Dexter Brigham, Brandon Behrens, Joni Hunt, Kim Frey, Jeff Clawson, Todd Burrows, Tracy Grimmer and Rex Conger.

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