Business incubator coming to Xenia

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — Budding entrepreneurs may soon have place in Xenia to launch their venture with a solid support system in place.

Manifold Development —a non-profit that works with other organizations to help them grow — and the Central State University Extension are looking to lease the former Xenia Adult Recreation and Services Center to house a small-business incubator. The City of Xenia owns the building at 130 E. Church Street and last month rezoned the property from residential to a public institutional district, under which the incubator would be a permitted use.

According to Manifold owner Josh Cernetic, the venture — to be called the J.P. Fritz Business center in memory of JoAnn Fritz, grandmother of CSU Extension administrator Anthony Barwick — will be membership-based and contain a food incubator and small business component. It will include co-op space, think rooms, a conference room, and mailboxes so members can have a physical address. The commercial kitchen inside the building will be maintained and the dining room area will be used for training and event space.

Each member would have individually secured office space between 125 and 200 square feet — the building is approximately 10,000 square feet — and could also buy into secretarial services so phones can be answered during business hours even if the owner isn’t on site.

Central State Extension will provide programming for the businesses, and help start-up businesses obtain an employer identification number, a tax ID number, develop business plans, website design and product development.

The key is for members to grown and be able to “graduate” the incubator within three years. Potential members — which could be new or existing businesses — will be vetted to make sure they are on a path for success.

“As tenants, they will have an opportunity not only to exist … we want them to be successful,” Barwick said.

A portion of the rent will be invested into a matching fund to help establish start up capital when businesses move on from the program, Cernetic said.

The food incubator component would provide potential restaurant owners a place to try out their menus and build their business before moving to a permanent location. Cernetic also said food trucks could use the center as warehouse for items.

“There’s a lot of neat possibilities that could happen with the kitchen,” he said.

The city is currently drafting a lease which could be executed as early as March. City council would need to approve a lease before its signed, but that appears to be just a formality given the city’s low risk and high interest in the collaborative.

“We really see value from the city’s standpoint in partnering with these gentlemen,” City Planner Brian Forschner said. “We really want to encourage a strong entrepreneurial culture. Our X-Plan actually talks about incubators as a way to boost the local economy.”

Cernetic said if all goes well, the center could open in May or June.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said.

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507