Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - Northern Arizona's Locally Owned Newspaper

Business Accelerator to Create 300 Jobs

Expanding beyond the initial phase of incubating a new business is accelerating a growing business. This is the first goal at the city of Flagstaff’s Innovation Mesa, where the city intends to build a business accelerator adjacent to the current location of Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (NACET) by Buffalo Park. The accelerator will provide resources and an environment to help local businesses advance.

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently gave the city of Flagstaff a $4 million grant to construct a business accelerator to support Tier 2 companies in the area. A large percentage of local companies perform research, so there is a desperate need for wet and dry laboratories in which these science and technical companies can develop their work. The building that will house the accelerator will include 25,000 square feet of lab and research facilities.

The city’s accelerator will include graduates from NACET as well as other local expanding companies.  The new accelerator will target Tier 2 companies, and participation is open to any non-retail business in the community. The relationship with the accelerator will continue for three to seven years, depending on the needs and growth of the developing business.

“We expect the accelerator to net 300 new jobs, and anticipate $20 million in capital investment in the first three years,” said Stacey Button, director of economic vitality with the city. “Business retention and expansion and advancing start-ups are all critical to the community’s success.”

The city’s contract with NACET will allow them to provide experienced business leadership in areas such as marketing, distribution, manufacturing, logistics, accounting, legal, human resources, financing and more. Access to NACET staff, mentors, professional service providers and networking opportunities create a climate for success.

“As a nonprofit, NACET is all about jobs,” said Russ Yelton, president and CEO of NACET, “and for the city, it is about updating and discerning whether there is appropriate infrastructure in place,” he said. “The project is less an expansion of NACET than it is…the city’s project to expand science and research capabilities in the region. There is lots of collaboration,” Yelton said, “and lots of accountability.”

The total project sum for Phase 2 of the business accelerator is $7.76 million. The first of three planned buildings, intended for housing the accelerator, will be completed in 2014, providing 25,000 square feet for wet and dry labs, additional office space and light manufacturing.

“We’re confident in our ability to meet the job growth expectations,” said Button. “This is a partnership. The project is part of a shared vision with local, state, federal and private entities. There are lots of public and private sector agencies that have been involved in the creation and development of this project – including the city, NAU, NACOG, the Arizona Commerce Authority and NACET. We’re pleased to be in this partnership to advance the innovative spirit within our community.” FBN

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