November 19, 2014
By Jana Adkins, Signal Business Editor
The city of Santa Clarita threw open the doors of its new business incubator and welcomed the first four startup tenants on Tuesday morning at the old Newhall Library on 9th Street.
After welcoming a group of local leaders and businesses, city officials cut the red ribbon and ushered the community inside for a tour of the newly renovated building.
“It’s a good match for our startup status,” said Robert Bruza, CEO of Kovariant, an analytics technology company for the entertainment and media industries.
“We’re bringing together a new concept and looking for an environment where we can find a support network to grow,” Bruza said. “That’s always key in the early stages.”
On hand to kick off the incubator’s opening were attorneys from Poole & Shaffery, one of the incubator’s sponsors.
“We’re providing legal support to the new businesses here,” said David Poole.
The city wants to be sure each of the businesses has the support and resources they need to be successful, said Jason Crawford, economic development manager for the city.
“There are all different types of businesses coming in at different levels of startup stages; and a mesh of creative and technology oriented companies,” Crawford said. “Together they can almost become a cohort of businesses helping each other to grow.”
Erin Royer-Asrilant is planning on launching her business, Your Village, in March but applied to become part of the incubator to learn marketing skills and gain extra business support.
“I want to make sure we’re dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s,” Royer-Asrilant said.
A third company, Nuhubit Software Studios, is launching its business with a limited budget. As a result owner Alex Bozman was attracted to the business support he’ll get from the city, College of the Canyons and the Small Business Development Center to help guide him along the way, he said.
“Santa Clarita is home to more than 6,000 companies,” said Mayor Laurene Weste at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Yet Santa Clarita still managed to grow, adding 8,000 more jobs during the past four years, during lean economic times, Weste said.
“We look to the future and want to be in a place with innovative concepts and companies that can grow,” she said.
The city, COC and the SBDC collaborated on the Incubator by selecting the new businesses and corralling support from business professionals to lend the startups a helping hand.
“It’s symbolic of what we’re all about in Santa Clarita – collaboration, cooperation and partnerships,” said Eric Harnish, vice president of public information for COC. “Small business is the backbone of business and drives growth.”
With a reception area, two classrooms and a fully equipped kitchen, the small businesses will share the building with the city’s Special Districts department.
“I’ve always been struck by how much opportunity there is here,” Bruza said, who also said he’s has had his share of long commutes in and out of Santa Clarita to work in the San Fernando Valley.
“I’ve already started the company and will be using the Incubator as a business base,” he said.