A multi-institution partnership will bring rising entrepreneurs from throughout the area to downtown Ithaca to work, learn and create a new thriving business hub in the heart of the city. In collaboration with Cornell University, Tompkins Cortland Community College, local developer Travis Hyde Properties and the State of New York, Ithaca College recently announced the launch of the Downtown Ithaca Incubator.
Located on the second floor of the Carey Building at 314 E. State St. — just a couple of blocks from where Ithaca College was founded and located before moving to its South Hill campus in the 1960s — the incubator is expected to be open once building renovations are completed in the summer of 2014. Also in the works is a third-floor expansion by early 2015, creating an eventual 9,000-square-foot working space.
The incubator will be used for programming and events that support entrepreneurship, providing tenant companies with access to work space, mentoring and resources. Companies will be evaluated for tenancy without regard to organizational affiliation and will be eligible for tax incentives through New York State. Upon graduation from the incubator, companies can take advantage of abundant available commercial and office space downtown, and many will qualify for additional tax incentives through the new Start-UP NY program.
“This venture is the very definition of a win-win situation, both academically and economically,” said Ithaca College President Tom Rochon. “The incubator will be a terrific resource for budding entrepreneurs whose success depends on the caliber of the mentoring and support they receive in the critical early phases of developing their business ideas and plans. Equally important to Ithaca College, the incubator will offer tremendous benefit to our students, who will have the opportunity to work alongside, learn from and provide support to these entrepreneurs. They will see the entrepreneurial spirit in action and learn by experience what it takes to launch a successful business.”
The Downtown Ithaca Incubator will serve as one “node” in the new Southern Tier Innovation Hot Spot, a regional economic development plan. The total cost of the renovation, furnishing and future expansion of the Carey Building is estimated at $3.5 million. Funding for the project was secured through the state’s Consolidated Funding Application process for $1 million, with the remaining $2.5 million being invested by Travis Hyde, which is also supporting the incubator through rent abatements.
Operational costs are being supported by the partner higher education institutions. Over time, fees paid by tenants will partially offset those costs.
“The incubator is a natural complement to the growing undergraduate program in entrepreneurship within our School of Business,” said Rochon. “I expect that once it is up and running, it will spur our students to even more innovative thinking in the campuswide Business Idea Competition hosted annually by the school.”
Pictured in the photo at the announcement of the Downtown Ithaca Incubator project are (left to right) Mary Opperman, Cornell University vice president for human resources and safety services; Frost Travis, president of Travis Hyde Properties; John Conners, provost and vice president of Tompkins Cortland Community College; Tom Rochon, president of Ithaca College; David Skorton, president of Cornell University; and Tom Schryver, executive director of new venture advancement at Cornell University and lecturer in the Ithaca College School of Business.