The Upper Arlington Community Improvement Corp. is looking to another region as a model as it forms a task force to consider options for developing a business incubator.

The Upper Arlington Community Improvement Corp. is looking to another region as a model as it forms a task force to consider options for developing a business incubator.

"As we embark on this endeavor, it would be wise to have someone who has done this before," said City Manager Ted Staton, who is on the board of the CIC.

CIC members heard a presentation April 19 from Jeff Smith of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) about the East Lansing Technology Innovation Center (TIC) in Michigan.

The TIC, created by the city of East Lansing, is a regional business accelerator designed to facilitate the development a technology-based economy and cater to Michigan State University Information Technology spinoffs, high-tech ventures, and local entrepreneurs, according to the organization's website.

The program also offers training, funding sources, mentoring and professional advisers.

Smith said the TIC offers office space, workstations and conference rooms for companies as a sort of "economic hub." It is all about crafting a culture of creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship that taps into the resources of the area's business resources, he added.

"We should be encouraging entrepreneurship," Smith said. "You can quickly build that culture around a hub. You have an opportunity."
Smith said this program and model could definitely work in a lot of different places.

"Every community in the United States has something about them that makes them unique," he said. "If you can leverage that, you can make a real economy."

CIC President Phillip Markwood said a CIC task force will be meeting to consider options for a business incubator.

"We need, on the CIC side, to get serious," he said.

Markwood said it ultimately be a joint effort between the CIC and UA Area Chamber of Commerce.

"We have, over the years, tried to form a stronger relationship between the CIC and the chamber," he said. "What our role is going to be is yet to be determined … It's evolving."

Chamber President Becky Hajost, who is on the CIC board, said the chamber began looking into something like a business incubator years ago and has identified a number of possible spaces where an incubator could go.

An incubator and business hub resonate well with the programs and goals of the chamber, she added.

"It's still very early," Hajost said. "We got some key people in place. These are exciting times."