The $10.5 million business incubator on Casper’s west side will soon be a branch of the University of Wyoming following an agreement signed Friday by the university and the Casper development group that oversaw the project’s inception.
The handoff comes after more than eight months of negotiations between the university and officials with the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance, who announced in November their intent to transfer the incubator to UW.
Bill Edwards, CAEDA’s CEO and president, said the staff at UW’s Business Technology Center — the university’s Laramie-based business incubator — will bring to the project business-coaching expertise and start-up experience CAEDA didn’t have. A business incubator helps businesses grow larger faster than they would have otherwise, offering one-on-one business consultations and low rent rates.
Built between 2011 and 2012, the mostly taxpayer-funded Casper Area Innovation Center at the Platte River Commons struggled through a debate with local contractors during its construction process. Five businesses currently operate out of the facility, Edwards said.
UW Technology Business Center Chief Executive Officer Jon Benson said his staff will focus on a particular type of client.
“We want somebody who wants to build a business,” Benson said.
His staff of three at the Casper incubator will include a director, business counselor and a receptionist. Benson plans to launch a business advisory program, coaching new executives in Casper through the emotional ups and downs of running a business, he said.
“We bring an approach that we’ve used here [in Laramie], and it can be successful,” Benson said.