Business feature: Chamber, CIDC team up to help businesses

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico

Gene Hendrick, manager of the recently-formed Clovis Business
Incubator, likes to use an analogy when trying to explain the name of
his organization.

“When I was growing up, everybody had an incubator because they’d
raise their own chickens,” Hendrick said. “An incubator was something
you used to bring the chickens along to a point where they didn’t need
you anymore. And that’s exactly what a business incubator is.”

Located at 105 E. Grand, the Clovis Business Incubator is a joint
project of two larger tenants of the building: The Clovis/Curry County
Chamber of Commerce and the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation.

Hendrick said 11 spaces exist on the second floor that range from
175 to 500 square feet and that below-market lease rates and
ready-to-use spaces are the draw for those just entering the business
world.

“We can make them (the spaces) into light manufacturing, but most of them will be office-oriented,” he said.

One person interested in starting a computer repair business is set
to sign a lease, according to Hendrick, and other small businesses —
such as a tutoring service and a physical therapist — are also close to
making their own deals.

A group with an office already set up in the building is the Small
Business Development Center — an organization strategically placed to
help clients start up their entrepreneurial ventures at the site.

“We have probably more people than ever thinking of starting their
own businesses,” said Gordon Smith, SBDC business specialist. “People
want to control their own destiny.”

The price to lease space at the incubator? One dollar, per square foot, per month.

That’s as low as $175a month for the smallest space, which Hendrick said is all that’s necessary for many clients.

“We provide a lot of services to them. They’ll have the Internet and
those conference and meeting rooms, restrooms and a kitchen up there,”
Hendrick said. “Some people only want enough space to put in a filing
cabinet and a place to sit down and do their work when they go out on
their calls.”

But there is a catch for the low lease rate. It’s a stipulation
that’s actually intended to get neophyte businesses a chance to get
used to the normal expense-and-revenue climate.

“It’s a three-year program and what we’re trying to do is get people
started. Those rates won’t last long. More than likely, the second
year, I’ll raise the rate,” Hendrick said. “And the third year I’ll
probably raise them still again.

“So that the end of the third year, when we would normally expect
them to graduate and go out on their own, they won’t get sticker shock
when they arrange for a place,” he added.