Small Business Incubators
Abbeville’s Development Strategy
As part of the City’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) the City has explored developing and operating a Small Business Incubator. After extensive research the City has decided to convert the Upstairs of the Chamber Building into a Small Business Incubator Facility.
This space will be leased out at a below market rate to prospective businesses who meet certain criteria.
A bit About Business Incubators
Definition: A business incubator is an organization that helps new and startup companies to develop by providing services such as management training or space for the business to operate. The National Business Incubation Association defines business incubators as a catalyst tool for either regional or national economic development.
Business Incubators have become a trendy and useful component of Economic Developers across the county and South Carolina is no exception to that rule. Thriving communities such as Charleston, Greenville, Spartanburg, Greer, Greenwood, etc. have business incubators which range from industrial focused facilities to co working spaces designed to further entrepreneurial development. In fact, Abbeville County has successfully operated an industrial business incubator for the past decade which has brought dozens of jobs and millions of dollars to Abbeville. However, the incubator the City has developed is geared toward small business creation. Small businesses which will hopefully help fill some of the vacant commercial buildings in Downtown and other areas of the City after their time at the incubation facility is up.
By having a Small Business Incubator, the City is helping to ensure that local entrepreneurs are being provided with the necessary tools to start their business journey right here in Abbeville. This tactic has two primary benefits; one, the real economic impact of the jobs and businesses that will be created in Abbeville; and two, the long term positive societal and community impact of helping to keep more of Abbeville’s home-grown talent in Abbeville.
Any prospective business looking to lease the space at the City’s Business Incubator must meet certain requirements. Those requirements are:
- Have created a business plan which shows the business is financially feasible and can be operated on a long-term basis in Abbeville
- Have no outstanding fees, taxes, or utility bills owed to the City
- Plan to permanently locate to the City of Abbeville after their incubation period
- Agree to provide all information and business records requested
- Understand that the Incubator Space can be occupied for a maximum of 24 Months
- After this time, the business will have to vacate the Incubator Space
Additionally, the following requirements are placed on prospective tenants:
- Tenant must be a resident of Abbeville County and/or operating their existing business in Abbeville County
- At a minimum have an established hobby business having completed at least 25 transactions over the last year with non-relatives. (Flexible depending on industry)
- Have established social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and an up to date Google listing
- Have an E-commerce or landing page website
- No current Multi-Level Marketing involvement
- Have an Abbeville City Business License
- Obtained proper County Permits
- Maintain Regular Hours
- Take classes in:
- Customer Service
- These types of classes are offered by the Freshwater Coast Community Foundation at both the Abbeville and McCormick Chambers of Commerce free of charge
- Consult with a local attorney and accountant at some time during the incubation period
Public-Private partnerships are a cornerstone of a CEDS and this would be one of the City’s first forays into such a partnership. Small Business Incubators have become a necessary Economic Development tool and one which can help revitalize and renew Downtown activity as well as inspire entrepreneurial innovation, especially in rural communities. From a long-term perspective, if only one out of every 3 incubator tenants turn into a long-term City business, that would be 5 new businesses as a direct result of this program over the next 15 years (Based on a one year incubation period).
For every $1 the City invest into an Incubation Facility, we expect a significant return on investment through additional economic activity by 2025. Business Incubators also:
- Increase the 5-year survival rate for Small Businesses from 44% to 87%
- Result in 84% of tenants remaining in their original community
In sum, as the City of Abbeville fights to become more attractive to businesses, an incubation facility done through partnership(s) with private business(es) will become an extremely cost-effective way of ensuring Abbeville continues to expand its business community and becomes a center for small business commerce in the region.
Downloadable Incubator Application Form
Online Incubator Application Form