AKRON GLOBAL BUSINESS ACCELRATOR HISTORY The Business Incubator program in Akron, the first and now largest in Ohio, attracted its first start-up in May, 1983. It was located in an old 30,000 square foot former steel warehouse at the edge of the University of Akron campus. Original partners in the program were the University, The City of Akron, and Summit County. The Incubator was formed to counter the loss of jobs in the tire industry through new business creation and expanded employment opportunities. The program was an essential element in the business creation network established in Akron. Michael LeHere, the current CEO of the Incubator, was retained to establish and manage the Incubator as well as develop an aggressive entrepreneurial outreach program and business assistance center. The Incubator was quite successful and fully occupied 18 months after opening. The focus of the Incubator was the creation of manufacturing, assembly and distribution businesses. It became apparent that, to meet the needs of the emerging entrepreneurial community, an expansion of the program was needed. In 1990 the program moved from its original facility to a 60,000 square foot facility in the central business district. In 1993, a larger building in the original Goodrich Tire complex became available. This building offered all the amenities needed for manufacturing related companies, and a successful proposal was submitted to the Economic Development Authority (EDA) for funding. Thereafter the City embarked on a $3 million renovation of the first five floors of the building. The Incubator opened in its current location on July 1995, and offers suites from 500 to 10,000 square feet. Lease rates are approximately 60 to 70 percent of current market rates. Keeping these rates low allows our start-up companies to channel their funding toward revenue producing activities rather than overhead expenses. The occupancy rate has run historically in the 70 to 75 percent range. It became apparent that while our new facility met the needs of manufacturing type businesses, it fell short in meeting the needs of emerging technology-based enterprises that need upscale office and/or lab facilities. An ambitious funding program was needed to renovate the upper floors and accommodate the needs of new technology based businesses. Based on the Incubators past success in developing entrepreneurial new start businesses, the EDA agreed to fund one-half of the new project’s $4.2 million total budget, with The City of Akron providing the remaining one-half in matching funds. The renovation was completed in August 2006 and focused directly on meeting the space and service needs of technology driven companies. The program is now able to offer upscale, climate-controlled office and lab space to these companies. Expandable office space is available in 550 square foot modules, as well as six wet labs with associated office space. Six additional conference rooms were added for tenant use. A large conferencing facility, holding 33 people with a coffee bar and kitchenette for catering, is also available. Today, the Akron Industrial Incubator, now known as the Akron Global Business Accelerator (AGBA), is the center of entrepreneurial activity and technology commercialization in Northeast Ohio. It houses 35 companies in the facility, many of which are on the newly renovated upper floors. It offers upscale office, lab and manufacturing space with state of the art conferencing facilities and IT services. The Accelerator offers entrepreneurial support and counseling services including: cash flow management, financing, marketing and sales, business plan development and much more. Special interest and attention is given to assisting new companies commercializing advanced materials, electronics and instrumentation, and information technologies. The Accelerator offers specialized services to attract international businesses that wish to open new markets in North America. This program provides the foundation and infrastructure needed by new technology-based and other high growth companies to identify and develop their markets, and realize their true profit potential.
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