Business incubator eyed for Surry

By Tom Joyce

July 31, 2014

Operating a business and being their own boss is a dream for some people, but it takes more than a vision — resources such as office space and copying equipment also can be needed along with advice.

Finding ways to meet such needs is the idea behind an effort now under way by the Surry County Economic Development Partnership (EDP), which could lead to the establishment of a business incubator locally.

Its purpose would be to assist start-up enterprises that often face a range of difficulties.

The effort might result in a support infrastructure being provided for persons wishing to launch a business, or existing entrepreneurs or small business owners. The beneficiaries could be someone now operating a business out of a garage, basement or back bedroom, for example.

EDP President Todd Tucker is not aware of a small business incubator ever existing in Surry County, which he said several people recently have expressed interested in pursuing. The ultimate goal is having a local resource available where people could receive assistance in getting a business off the ground.

An incubator is an economic-development tool commonly used to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies. But researching the needs of the community targeted is a key first step of the process to develop one, with Tucker saying that the Surry EDP is at that stage now.

The organization is trying to gauge interest among potential or existing business owners for the establishment of an incubator.

This is occurring via an online survey process that began earlier this month.

The survey is being promoted through business-friendly organizations including the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce; the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce, which includes the Elkin area; the Pilot Mountain Area Business Association; and the Surry Community College Small Business Center.

“We’re looking countywide,” Tucker said of the quest to reach anyone who is interested in such an incubator and could benefit from its services.

For those not contacted by the chambers of commerce and other entities, the link for the survey is

It contains only nine questions.

Survey respondents are asked to list the best location for their businesses, among Surry’s municipalities; what types of physical space or infrastructure would be important to them, such as individual offices or conference rooms, WiFi/high-speed Internet or shared space; and their opinions on the use of shared personnel by multiple businesses such as receptionists, administrative assistants or human resources employees.

Those taking the survey also are asked to prioritize their need for professional resources, including business planning, marketing, legal advice, accounting, health insurance expertise and others.

There is also a question regarding the demand for specialized equipment such as printers, copiers/scanners and video conferencing infrastructure, and one focusing on work environment expectations, including mentorship opportunities and ways business owners can collectively tackle issues common to all.

Persons with existing businesses are asked to describe and identity their locations.

The survey results will be used to determine the exact scope of the proposed business incubator and what it needs to become in order to assist the targeted sector.

“We haven’t named it yet,” said Tucker, who added that the term “incubator” might not be the most appropriate way to describe what transpires.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.