May 23, 2008

Two complete incubator management program

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Two business professionals from Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Office of Economic and Regional Development completed the National Business Incubation Association's Incubator Management Certificate Program.

Emily Carter, director of entrepreneurship and business development, and Robyn Laur Russell, director of business development and international trade, completed the training May 3-7 in San Antonio, Texas, during the association's 22nd annual International Conference on Business Incubation. They were among more than 650 people from more than 40 countries attending.

The National Business Incubation Association, best known as NBIA, created the certificate program in February 2007 to give incubator executives a comprehensive and practical overview of their responsibilities and duties with regard to business incubation program management. It enhances incubator manager skills and gives opportunities to garner ideas to build stronger key constituent relationships, provide effective client services, ensure sustainability of incubators and much more. The NBIA is the world's leading organization for the advancement of business incubation and entrepreneurship. The organization shares with thousands of professions information and networking resources and acts as an advocate for excellence in the incubation process of helping early-stage companies.

There's not a professional designation involved, but the certificate program completion signifies that Carter and Russell have mastered the skills of incubator governance, services and policies. The SIUC business incubator professionals completed 24 hours of training, including three full-day workshops created just for the program and five elective 75-minute training sessions to earn the certificates. Incubator finances, strategic planning, graduation policies and procedures, client selection and facilities management were some of the workshop topics.

"We thought it would be helpful for NBIA to establish a base of knowledge that every incubator manager should know, regardless of the type of incubator they run," said Tom Strodtbeck, NBIA director of events and training. "The certificate program is a way for people to track their progress in gaining that knowledge."

The Small Business Incubator at SIUC assists with the startup and growth of local companies giving entrepreneurs the expertise, networking and other tools they need to be successful. According to NBIA estimates, across North America incubators assisted more than 27,000 new business employing more than 100,000 people generating in excess of $17 billion in annual revenues.

The SIUC Small Business Incubator is currently home to 16 incubator clients, while six graduated in 2007. The Illinois Board of Higher Education Web site recently highlighted the incubator for its effective practices.

Kyle Harfst, director of technology and enterprise development, and Lynn Anderson Lindberg, director of innovation and manufacturing development, also attended the meeting and are progressing toward completion of their certifications.