Is Cornwall Ontario Ready for its own Business Incubator? October 24, 2011

CFN –   Is it time for a business incubator in Cornwall Ontario?   It’s something I’ve been lobbying for here for over two years; mostly to deaf ears as certain powers that be seem more focused on attracting big box type businesses that actually can hurt downtown cores and city cultures.

I call it the “Walmart Effect”.   Saturday night 9PM Walmart’s parking lot here in Cornwall has more cars than all of downtown Cornwall.    At times during evenings when our main drag should be hopping you literally can stand in the middle of the street and take photos as I have done several times.

Many city’s revitalize themselves starting from their downtown cores.  Not everyone is meant or cut out to work in retail stores in big box chains or call centres.  Small boutiques and shops bring diversity; culture; and life to a city.  They attract and retain people.  Why shop out of town or online when there’s a charming shop.

Look at Cities like Burlington Vermont or closer to home Brockville or Merrickville Ontario and you can see the multitude of benefits a vibrant entrepreneurial base can have on a community.

Even Gerry Visca, the key note speaker here at The Chamber of Commerce’s Biz Fest shared on the subject.


So what is a Business incubator?   Good question.  Essentially it’s form of help for small businesses to pool together services and resources.  There are different types.

Biz Incubator WIKI

Business incubators are programs designed to accelerate the successful development of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services, developed and orchestrated by incubator management and offered both in the incubator and through its network of contacts. Incubators vary in the way they deliver their services, in their organizational structure, and in the types of clients they serve. Successful completion of a business incubation program increases the likelihood that a start-up company will stay in business for the long term: older studies found 87% of incubator graduates stayed in business,[1] in contrast to 44% of all firms.

I think that’s a pretty good introductory description.

Most common incubator services:[4]

  • Help with business basics
  • Networking activities
  • Marketing assistance
  • High-speed Internet access
  • Help with accounting/financial management
  • Access to bank loans, loan funds and guarantee programs
  • Help with presentation skills
  • Links to higher education resources
  • Links to strategic partners
  • Access to angel investors or venture capital
  • Comprehensive business training programs
  • Advisory boards and mentors
  • Management team identification
  • Help with business etiquette
  • Technology commercialization assistance
  • Help with regulatory compliance
  • Intellectual property management
That covers a lot of ground.   Yes it does take some seed money; but mostly it takes the good will of those that participate in it along with some support from local governments and agencies.   As a matter of fact because of the nature of our demographics Cornwall Ontario is ideal for an incubator as many retire here after successful careers and have the ability to share and support those.  As a matter of fact my only share holder of  my company does this exact thing running his own business as well as investing in this one after a first career.
The really positive thing is that the successful incubator businesses usually lead to more businesses growing and staying in our city and not simply being a ledger number that gets shut down the minute it doesn’t reach its goal.
Do you think Cornwall Ontario is ready for a business incubator?  You can post your comments below.


  1. Isn’t this why we have the (SEA) Self-employment Assistance program? An incredible Public Library? The Cornwall Business Enterprise Center?

  2. Author

    Hi Jacqueline, none of those are a business incubator. All have the potential to be elements of one though.

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