Kent incubator provides cheap start-up costs for businesses

Josh Echt

The City of Kent’s accidental discovery of vacant space above its offices was no tragedy for Liquid Learning CEO Ronald McDaniel.

His home-based business producing educational and security tracking tools needed a new site after outgrowing its location in Green, a suburb of Akron.

McDaniel and several other tenants benefited from an accidental discovery of under-utilized space above the city offices on Summit Street in 2003, said Economic Development Coordinator Michael Weddle.

Although the Kent incubator is formally referred to as an “accidental” incubator, Weddle said, standard incubators provide benefits such as affordable space to startup companies and shared services such as a receptionist, copy machines and broadband access to the Internet. The Summit Street operation is a collection of independent businesses, he said.

McDaniel, who employs seven people, said the incubator gave him what he needed.

“Our business doesn’t need storefront, just office space,” he said.

The city helps the businesses stay in Kent by offering several benefits to the fledgling companies.

Weddle said the city offers a forgivable loan of $1000 if businesses need it.

If the company relocates within Kent upon leaving the incubator then the loan will not have to be repaid, he said.

If the businesses stay in Kent after their term at incubator is complete, the city will also pay out of a holding fund up to $2,500 assisting in the businesses’ relocation.

The ultimate goal, he said, is to keep the newly developed businesses in the city of Kent.

“We’re looking at long-term trends,” Weddle said. “If the business stays in Kent for 20 years, for instance, that will help the city.”

Contact public affairs reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].