On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council unanimously agreed to have staff look into incubator programs for small businesses.
The item was brought before the council at the request of Mayor Sean Wright after he explained how there has been a lot of effort in the community the past year of trying to bring an incubator program to the city.
“There’s been a lot of work on an incubator over the last couple of years and as it’s been done, there’s really no discussion by council as to whether we like this idea or not. And so you really can’t have staff going off and doing work that council hasn’t said this is an idea that we like. I asked for this to be brought to council is that we could have a discussion as to whether this is something that we support and if want our staff spending time on or this,” said Wright.
Wright explained that Keith and Iris Archuleta had been working on bring a program to Antioch through
the Northern Waterfront Initiative and they are looking at buildings. He also stated that the Somersville Towne Center is looking into an incubator program.
“I think it’s a good thing for our community. I think council should say yes,” said Wright. “So how much do we want staff looking into these incubators as potential job growth centers. I am in favor, but I wanted to bring it up to the council and find out where our council is on it.”
Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe asked if staff was already doing work on this.
Wright explained staff currently was not because they did not have council direction on whether or not to put time into it.
“Staff has not been working on it,“ said Wright. There’s been a lot of work being done but not by staff. They’re talking to staff and they want staff to work on it. But that’s the question is how much staff time do we want them to put in to this.”
Councilman Tony Tiscareno stated he was intrigued by the idea.
“I’m intrigued. I think before I have more discussions, I would love to hear a presentation from folks that are proposing this to get a better education on what they’re trying to get accomplished here so we can get a better idea of how we want to go about utilizing an incubator out here,” said Tiscareno. “I think that it’s a positive, a method for a community age. But I need an education on why we’re having this discussion.”
Councilwoman Monica Wilson said incubators could provide home based businesses with opportunities where they have a place to go even thought they may not have enough revenue coming in to get a place of their own office space.
“A presentation is definitely needed,” said Wilson. “It really supports our up-and-coming entrepreneurs throughout the city and within our region. So I think this incubator idea, I’m like the one I’ve seen from the Archuleta’s, it is actually a really good plan and that’s the one I’m more familiar with. It is something good that something the city look into and I think it would create a lot of opportunities for small startups.”
Wright reiterated he had been doing his research and visited the Mayors Entrepreneur Conference in Oakland where several different incubators hosted the event.
“They were just incredible,” said Wright. The young minds that were coming there and commingling and working together. The synergy that it created was just phenomenal. I’ve done some more research and found there’s some holes and how do we fill those holes? But overall, I really liked the concept.
Tiscareno said many businesses owners work out of a coffee shop and their doing their business there so this could be a good concept going forward.
Thorpe requested the discussion be focused on a “globally” focused because in his mind they are associated with research universities and the private sector.
“I would like to get a global perspective, so we can see how our role fits in… and it’s not driven by one particular interest, but by the city” said Thorpe. “If the city isn’t making any investments, real investments, not reducing rent to $1 but making fiscal investments and they’re not going to work. And so I want to be nice to have a global perspective, not one that’s, just a global perspective on incubators.”
Wright added one thing he learned while in Kansas City at a conference was is if you build an incubator, it will sit empty unless you figure out where the pipeline of young entrepreneurs is coming from and how to connect it.
“That was an awakening for me, but all that it did was take us to the next level of how do we find that pipeline of young entrepreneurs and thought leaders and then create that space,” said Wright.
The council agreed to director staff to bring this item back as a presentation so they could have further discussion.