RIO COMMUNITIES — Entrepreneurs in Valencia County will soon have another resource to help launch their businesses as the Valencia County Business Incubator prepared for a soft launch this weekend.
Co-founder and interim director Ben Romero said the goal is to develop new businesses throughout the county.
“Do you have a business idea and are you motivated to create a business? We are here to support you and we are here to guide you,” said Romero. “We’re here to make sure you’re successful because at the end of the day … we want our entrepreneurs to stay here.”
Led by the Village of Los Lunas and the City of Rio communities, the incubator is accessible to everyone in the district. It will be located in the Rio Communities City Hall complex and use space at the University of New Mexico-Valencia Los Lunas Campus Workforce Training Center for client intake meetings.
The concept of a county business incubator emerged in 2017 and, with the help of incubation operations, training and applications, a USDA-funded feasibility study was completed in early 2018. The study found that a small business incubator was feasible in Valencia County, particularly in the edibles area, and indicated that the county would eventually need a mixed-use kitchen incubator.
VCBI received 501c3 status from the Tax Administration last year.
“We’ve been very fortunate with the city of Rio Communities,” Romero said. “They were very helpful in our mission and helped us get under us. They have also worked hard to increase business in Rio’s communities.”
Although it was a soft opening, the incubator is now accepting clients, Romero said.
“We’ve already had seven local businesses in the last few weeks interested in becoming clients,” he said.
The business incubator is a home for entrepreneurs, Romero said, with staff and experts providing advisory and mentoring training for new business owners, as well as programs to ensure the success of start-ups.
“In this first year, we’re looking at 10 to 15 clients and we’ll make sure we hold their hand and guide them, but at the end of the day, it’s their business, their property,” Romero said. “We’re here to push and guide them basically.”
Prospective clients will present their business plan to an admissions committee made up of VCBI board members and community members. Romero said the board is not looking for specific types of businesses, but specific types of people.
“The most valuable thing is that they are trained; they are willing to learn and are passionate about what they want to do,” he said. “We love hobbies, but we don’t want them to come in and think of this as a hobby. It’s a job. We want to increase entrepreneurship.”
Once accepted, clients will be charged a fee, Romero said, but the board has not yet determined it.
Following the guidelines of the feasibility study, the incubator will start small. The plan is to grow into a hybrid of mixed-use and kitchen incubator by 2025, which will help 30 to 40 clients. The average client will be in the incubator for two to four years, Romero said.
Board member and local realtor Loedi Silva said the incubator will be a great resource.
“It would be great to have some of these resources in my startup business,” Silva said.
For more information, visit vcbi.org, or contact Romero by phone or text at 505-514-5555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.