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Innovation and Incubation Entrepreneurial Center dedicated at OSU-Okmulgee/MidAmerica Industrial Park

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Oklahoma State University-Okmulgee and MidAmerica Industrial Park launched a significant project to build the industry base in northeastern Oklahoma.

The college and commerce group dedicated a new Innovation and Incubation Entrepreneurial Center near Pryor, Oklahoma, on Tuesday. More than a hundred area community, government, business and education leaders attended the dedication ceremony. The MidAmerica Industrial Park Administration and Trustees and educators from OSU-Okmulgee hosted the event.

Speakers at the dedication included Sanders Mitchell, MidAmerica Industrial Park Administrator; Dan Boren, U.S. House of Representatives; Chancellor Paul Risser, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education; Jerry Efurd, Northeastern Oklahoma Area Director for USDA Rural Development; Chuck Woodson, President of Non-Metallic Sciences, Inc., and first client of the Small Business Innovation and Incubation Center; and Dr. Robert Klabenes, OSU-Okmulgee president.

Boren told the group that technology and attitude are the two major factors in changing and preparing rural Oklahoma to perform successfully in a globally competitive environment.

"This collaboration between OSU-Okmulgee and the MidAmerica Industrial Park in the development of technology- and manufacturing-based companies will result in high-tech and high-wage jobs in this geographic area," Boren said.

Located halfway between Chouteau and Pryor, just east of Highway 69, the 11,000-square-foot Innovation and Incubation Entrepreneurial Center contains four business incubators. Two have 2,600 square feet, one has 1,800 square feet, and the other has 1,500 square feet. Each of the four spaces has an office with a private door and window onto a lab or shop area. Two spaces have 12-foot ceilings, and two spaces have 22-foot ceilings. All four spaces feature overhead doors as well as traditional entryways.

Mitchell noted that the collaboration between the MidAmerica Industrial Park and OSU-Okmulgee in creating and supporting a small business incubator represents a positive strategic shift in economic development and job creation in the Northeast Oklahoma region.

"This collaboration leverages an extensive array of assets from OSU, such as basic and applied research, workforce development, technical assistance and expertise concerning product commercialization," Mitchell said. "The park contributes assets such as the facility, initial operating capital, comprehensive infrastructure, web presence, industrial park environment and a reputation for job creation.

"The prosperity of our area is crucial to the prosperity of Oklahoma. Nearly 35% of Oklahoma residents live in rural areas compared to 20% nationwide. With cooperation and collaboration, we believe the opportunities that are available to us are well beyond the scope of our imagination at this time. The center represents an initiative that will facilitate research and spawn industries focused on new and emerging technologies."

The OSU-Okmulgee/MidAmerica Industrial Park Innovation and Incubation Entrepreneurial Center is an addition to the existing OSU-Okmulgee extension at MidAmerica Industrial Park. The MidAmerica Industrial Park and OSU-Okmulgee will work as partners to provide a process and capabilities to help clients grow their business to an independent and viable stage, including mentoring from other entrepreneurs and business owners, consultation with accounting/tax/legal specialists, strategic planning and marketing support, access to OSU-Okmulgee faculty for technical guidance, shared reception, office equipment, conference rooms, distance learning and teleconferencing capabilities and other services.

Access to the Advisory Committee comprised of area business leaders and educators. Leann Burger, recently appointed Innovation and Incubation Entrepreneurial Center manager, said the priority job creation sectors for this incubator are technology and light manufacturing. Examples include bioscience, nanotechnology, hardware/software development and engineering, non-metallic sciences and other related technologies.

"Centers like this are 'starter homes' for technology-based business," Burger said. "Our clients will contribute to the economic vitality of the area and ultimately be leaders in developing 21st-century innovations for rural Oklahoma."

Burger outlined the criteria for prospective clients applying for space at the center. They should have a unique, technology-driven idea, an idea in light manufacturing, a solid business plan, and financial resources, either in the form of entrepreneurial funding or some venture capital.

"The name of this center was very carefully selected to reflect the criteria we will look for when accepting clients," Klabenes said. "The title — Innovation and Incubation Entrepreneurial Center — specifies that the entrepreneurial spirit will be important and the product will need to be innovative to be selected as a client for this incubation center. In today's world, partnering is crucial; companies and organizations will have to be quick, innovative, respond to the needs of the public, and develop products of high quality in order to be competitive. This Innovation and Incubation Entrepreneurial Center will guide its clients to be competitive and to have a positive impact on the economic development of northeast Oklahoma."

Business incubator projects typically produce enterprises that become vital in the communities in which they are located. Small firms fostered in an incubator setting have an 85% success rate. They often grow at a rate that is seven to 22 times faster than a business started otherwise.

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