Town council has approved the Cochrane Business Incubator Operational Plan for The Station at the Cochrane Crossing. Now, applications are expected to be accepted in the latter part of April.
Council also approved using $50,000 from town operational reserves to obtain a regional innovation ecosystems grant from Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan).
The operating plan for the incubator, part of The Station at Cochrane Crossing, 360 Railway St. W., has been refined over the last few months. Following several steps, the first incubator members are expected to move in this June.
Acceptance into the incubator will be an ongoing process until the space can no longer add any more members. A waitlist will be formed if necessary.
With just over 2,000 sq. ft. of space, it is believed to have room for seven businesses, each with a maximum of four employees. Should some startups have fewer employees, a very real possibility, it may accommodate more.
Incubator members will first be vetted and those approved will pay $1,000 per year based on a membership of 24 to 20 months. They will have access to office space, priority booking of the boardrooms, high-speed internet, printers, and office supplies.
The membership agreement will set specific criteria to determine when the member is ready to move into their own setting, explains Mike Korman, town interim director of development services.
"We're trying to take our startups in the innovator, early adapter phase and breach that cassum to become a solidified business so they can emerge into our economy and make a real splash and help us create jobs, create businesses, and thrive," he told council.
Its objectives are to:
- Increase the successful development of new businesses, job creation, and employment in specific sectors that align with Cochrane’s current industries.
- Create and foster an entrepreneurial climate that aids in the diversification of the local economy.
- Attract funding and investment opportunities for new and existing companies in Cochrane.
- Execute business education and programming that provides support and resiliency for the business community.
- Solve Cochrane-specific problems and challenges through innovation.
Currently, they are working in partnership with Cochrane and District Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures West, Cochrane Tourism, and Innovative Cochrane.
"These aren't the only group that we're gonna be working with," explained Drew Hyndman, executive director of development and infrastructure services. "If there are others who emerge through our relationship building and intentional relationships, there'll certainly be an opportunity for them to be active parts of this great facility for our community as well."
That includes nongovernment businesses and educational institutes.
"We're going to look at investment funding in the future," said Hyndman. "I think that will emerge through these relationships and we're going to have an opportunity to partner with different universities and colleges as well."
Use of the visitor information centre and plaza, which is part of The Station, for community events is anticipated for the future.
"We'll certainly make adjustments, if groups are interested, to provide different opportunities, but again this is an evolution," said Hyndman. "We want to crawl before we walk and then ultimately run with this and we're really excited."
The federal government grant sought from PrairiesCan will provide Incubator programming and contracted resources to assist in the day-to-day operations of the Incubator.
It is anticipated town council will receive updates on the incubator every six months.