Business incubator looking for somebody to help

The St. Landry Parish business incubator is looking for companies to help.

The incubator was created to help grow employment from within the parish.

It has yet to attract many clients, and it faces a deadline on a $750,000 loan from the state that is forgivable only if it creates 20 jobs by March.

The incubator is operated by the St. Landry Economic and Industrial Development District.

Still, new incubator director Bill Rodier said he is in discussion with two potential clients. One would be a one-person business, which is not unusual for the startup businesses the incubator is designed to benefit.

The incubator creates an environment in which a small company can grow until it is strong enough to stand on its own.

It offers office space below market rates and provides limited secretarial help and access to office machines such as phones, copiers and such for free or at low cost.

Rodier said he has greater hope for the other potential client, which he described as a software development company.

The company, should it decide to locate in the incubator, would start with two positions.

Rodier said it plans to grow quickly to a staff of four software designers and a support staffer.

Joseph Thomas, who heads the incubator committee, praised Rodier’s efforts.

“I think we have a leader now who wants to move this incubator forward. He’s providing the right and appropriate leadership,” Thomas said.

In the meantime, Rodier said the incubator is running up a bill. “It is costing us a lot to run. We are spending $1,900 a month just for electricity,” Rodier said.

“We can still make this the business resource it needs to be, but we need to find a balance,” said Rodier, who hopes to develop the incubator into a small-business development center that would offer training and classes to area businesses.

Another problem facing the incubator is insurance.

Rodier said its insurance carrier said the incubator’s liability insurance can no longer cover various businesses in the incubator.

The board voted to require clients to buy their own liability insurance but agreed to contribute $1,000 to each company to defray part of the cost.