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An agreement has been reached for Paris Junior College to take over the Red River Region Business Incubator (R3bi) and move the entrepreneurship program onto the PJC campus, PJC President Pam Anglin confirmed today.
The incubator will be moved into offices on campus “hopefully by the end of September” and will become known as the PJC Incubator, Anglin said.
“We’ve got to get space ready for them, space we freed up because of our new construction,” she said.
The Paris City Council was scheduled to approve an agreement at its meeting Monday night to provide $89,000 to fund R3bi for nine months.
As a result of PJC’s taking over the incubator, the R3bi board has reduced its request for funding assistance from $89,000 to $30,000 for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, City Attorney Kent McIlyar said.
“The incubator board called a meeting (Wednesday),” McIlyar said. He and Mayor AJ Hashmi were among those in attendance, the city attorney said.
The incubator has been without a director since the resignation last month of Hank Betke.
That position will not be filled, Anglin said.
Like R3bi, PJC “will have offices for each incubating business – one space for every incubating business. They will rent that space from us for a very small sum that covers our overhead cost,” she said.
The incubator had been receiving funding from the Paris Economic Development Corporation, but the Paris City Council decided in June not to OK funding for another year.
There was a question of whether the PEDC can spend its money for anything other than creation of industrial jobs.
Neither the PEDC nor the City of Paris will be providing funds to the incubator now that the college is taking over the incubator.
“The college is not getting a dime,” Anglin said. “It’s my understanding that the money that R3bi gets from the city will be to close out R3bi and its commitments, and we will transition their businesses, their tenants, over to PJC,” Anglin added.
“It’s what we’re already doing. All that we’re doing that’s different from what already is being done is providing space on campus for the incubator businesses. It will become the PJC Incubator, with the same purpose — to serve the community.”
It’s a win-win, Anglin said. PJC will provide at no cost what the PEDC was paying $89,000 a year to support, and what the City Council had committed to support for the next nine months.
Taking over the incubator will allow the college to offer an entrepreneurship certificate for students, Anglin said.
“It’s a natural fit for the college,” she said.
Students will get college credit “to learn all those things you need to start up your own business, all of those basic things like basic accounting,” she said.
“For example, say we have someone in the welding curriculum or the heating curriculum, and they’ll get this certificate to where they’ll know how to use Quickbook, and they’ll know how to market a business and that sort of thing,” Anglin said.
“We’ll probably have a non-credit course, too.”
It was a natural thing for PJC to take over the incubator, the president said. The college already receives state and federal grants for the Small Business Development Center, which is located across South Collegiate Drive from the college.
Anglin had been in discussions for the past several weeks with Sydney Young, chairwoman of the R3bi board and Rebecca Clifford, chairwoman of the PEDC board, that led to Wednesday’s vote of the R3bi board.
Having the incubator under the PJC umbrella “is something that we’ve talked about for years. Back when Fred Green was hired, three or four years ago, as the first incubator director, he was hired as an SBDC counselor,” she said.
“So that intent was there then. And it just kind of evolved into R3bi. Typically, you find incubators on college campuses. Hopefully, it will increase our enrollment.”
Anglin said she has space in mind for the incubator, but is not ready to say where until she gets maintenance personnel over and makes sure the space is adequate for the needs of the incubator.
“There will be some common space. We won’t have the amount of square footage that is in the space that R3bi now has, but when you look at space available, it’s going to be much more,” Anglin said.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra