A friendly door chime greets visitors to 216 West Main Street, as they walk through the entrance to the Waxhaw Entrepreneurs office space. The chime is there to alert members of the Small Business Incubator that someone may need assistance. Members immediately greet the visitor and show him or her around the space. The office has been constructed with one goal in mind: to serve the community. And this month, exciting new resources are developing inside the Incubator.
As stated on their website, the Waxhaw Entrepreneurs (WE) mission is, “To nurture and advance the development of entrepreneurs during their start-up period, WE have will work with small businesses in all stages of development to provide counseling and guidance.” They function as a connector, networking new businesses to the right person or service that can help them, no matter the stage of development.
The Incubator has four stages of membership growth. During the first stage, members are assisted in creating the vision and direction for their new business. Mentorship is provided by community leader, the Waxhaw Business Association, or SCORE. In the second stage, Members are allowed to start implementing their business within the shared Incubator office space. Stage three gives the opportunity for the business to rent dedicated office space within the Incubator. In the fourth stage, the business is prepared to exit from the incubator as a successful business that can stand alone.
And this spring, the Incubator is offering even more to the community. “We had become an Incubator that is a connector. And when Created In The Carolinas (an Incubator member) joined the Union County Chamber of Commerce, we realized that they do the same kind of thing that we do, so we asked them to come in and be a presence on this side of the county. It makes them more accessible to people,” explains Karen Johnson, team leader for the WE. Now instead of having to travel to Monroe to connect with the Chamber, Waxhaw area residents will have access to a convenient Chamber satellite office.
But the Chamber office is not the not the only space in the Incubator that will be providing new and additional resources. In November, WE moved from upstairs to downstairs at their same location on Main Street. While upstairs, WE only had room for a meeting space and limited offices. Moving to the new downstairs area has allowed for the creation of a workstation and shared office space.
The office space is available for Waxhaw Business Association members to have office hours, limited to four hours per week per member. The workstation is for any client who wants to come in, work on the computer, and use the resources. For now, it’s a basic business office, with plans to expand by adding additional computers, or any other resources that become necessary.
The Incubator has also developed a relationship with Wingate University, which has an entrepreneurship minor. Students will now be coming in regularly to assist businesses by consulting with them and advising them on the latest information in fields such as marketing. Students will be setting volunteer hours that will be open for brainstorming with business owners. “They give them new ideas. Fresh ideas. Especially if they are doing a business that caters to the younger set. That helps a lot,” said Karen.
And to engage more of the community, a pop-up space on the sidewalk has been approved by the city. This will allow vendors and small businesses to display their products or demonstrate their skills, giving them valuable sales experience. Pop-ups are expected to be held the first Saturday of the month, with a different theme each month.
To provide a fun opportunity to visit the WE Incubator, Created In The Carolinas will have the office open on Friday, April 7th, from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm during the Downtown Waxhaw Easter Celebration. They will also be offering a craft-making station with the Easter Bunny.
Regular hours are 11:00 am to 4:00 pm daily, except for Mondays. Potential Incubator members can also call 704-256-5004 to make an appointment or email WEincubator@gmail.com.