Shelnutt requests $1 million for small business incubator

District 17 Sen. Shay Shelnutt has officially requested $1 million in funds through the state Senate budgeting process to assist in setting up a small business incubator to be operated by Wallace State Community College at the Oneonta campus center.

Shelnutt made the request in writing on Feb. 23 to Sen. Arthur Orr for handling through the Senate budgeting process.

Shelnutt cautioned The Blount Countian that cost control is a budget priority this year as in previous years, and that the amount actually awarded will be a function of the intensity of that priority as all requests for funding are evaluated.

“I’ve made the request, identified the project and benefit, and offered to provide any further needed information. It’s up to the budget group how they evaluate it from there,” Shelnutt said.

The small business incubator is included as a part of the permanent Wallace State Oneonta Campus Center building, to be built behind Oneonta Public Library, with a tentative completion date of 2018. The business incubator, combined with Blount County Economic Development Council offices, will occupy about half of the second floor of the 30,000-square-foot building.

A business incubator is office space that is made available at a nominal charge to new start-up businesses until they are firmly established and can afford to move to owned or rented space on the regular real estate market. It is considered an effective catalyst tool for local economic development.