THE PUSH for a business incubator hub in Heathcote received another boost at a community meeting in Heathcote on Monday, January 22.
The key findings from a community survey into a potential local business incubator showed a significantly high level of interest exists in the Heathcote community and from a wide variety of business types: 15 people are considering new business developments in Heathcote in the new year, home based micro-businesses would benefit from the incubator and services such as a shared conference room, quality office space and commercial kitchen facilities were also in high demand.
The survey received 50 responses from the Heathcote community – predominantly from people who were looking to start up a small business and those already running one.
The findings were released in front of a crowd that included Graeme Trewartha – the consultant who undertook the survey — and Merv Rushton from Workspace Australia, a business incubator that manages the sites and facilities of over 100 micro businesses in the City of Greater Bendigo.
As well as Mr Trewartha and Mr Rushton, 14 local community members attended the meeting.
After an overview of an existing business incubator was provided by Mr Rushton and Workplace Australia the decision was made to continue to push toward a business incubator initiative in Heathcote.
Sandra Slatter, the Secretary at Advance Heathcote Inc, said the news was exciting for Heathcote locals.
“Heathcote actually has the largest number of home-based micro-businesses in the City of Greater Bendigo, so this is a major breakthrough for the community,” Mrs Slatter said.
“The incubator would provide people who work from home and in isolation a place where they can go for meetings and a place they can network from.
“On top of that, the incubator can also provide mentoring in those key early stages of a business’s life.
“We are also now looking for an appropriate facility — it might not just be one facility either, lots of people are interested in a conference room, a kitchen and things like that.
“We also have to organise the governance of the company; whether we use a band of locals or source external expertise.”
Mrs Slatter said the next move was for Heathcote locals to take over the initiative and drive it forward.
“One of the next steps for us is to gather ‘champions’, which will be people who can help get the incubator up and running — we had a few people already put their hand up and say they are interested in helping.”
Those people were Michael Prowse, manager at the Heathcote Community Bank, Heathcote Health Chief executive Dan Douglass and Douglas Thomson from High Voltage.
Those interested in being involved as a ‘champion’ should contact Sandra Slatter at [email protected]
A business incubator is a company that can aid a business through the early stages of its life-cycle by offering advice in key areas, work spaces and other support services.