RIO COMMUNITIES – Entrepreneurs in Valencia County will soon have another resource to help launch their businesses as the Valencia County Business Incubator prepares for its soft launch this weekend.

Co-founder and interim director Ben Romero said the goal is to develop new businesses throughout the county.

“Do you have a business idea and are you motivated to start a business? We’re here to support you and we’re here to guide you,” Romero said. “We’re here to make sure you succeed because at the end of the day…we want our entrepreneurs to stay here.”

Led by the communities of the Village of Los Lunas and the City of Rio, the incubator is accessible to everyone in the county. It will be housed in the Rio Communities City Hall complex and will use the Workforce Training Center space at the University of New Mexico-Valencia campus in Los Lunas for business meetings. admission of customers.

The concept for a county-wide business incubator surfaced in 2017, and with the help of Incubation Operations, Training and Applications, a USDA-funded feasibility study was completed in early 2017. 2018. The study found that a small business incubator was feasible in Valencia County, particularly in the area of ​​edibles, and indicated that the county would eventually need a mixed-use kitchen incubator.

The VCBI received its 501c3 status from the IRS last year.

“We’ve been very lucky with the city of Rio Communities,” Romero said. “They were very helpful in our mission and helped us get our teeth into it. They have also done tons of work themselves to increase business in Rio communities.

While it was a soft opening, the incubator is now accepting customers, Romero said.

“Over the past two weeks, seven local businesses have already contacted people interested in becoming customers,” he said.

A business incubator is a home for entrepreneurs, Romero said, with staff and experts who provide counseling and mentorship training to new business owners, as well as programs to ensure fledgling businesses succeed.

“In this first year, we’re looking at 10 to 15 clients, and we’ll make sure to hold their hands and guide them, but at the end of the day, it’s their business, their property,” Romero said. “We’re here to basically push and guide them.”

Prospective clients will pitch their business plan to an admissions committee comprised of VCBI board members and community members. Romero said the council isn’t looking for specific types of businesses, but rather specific types of people.

“The most valuable thing is that they can be coached; they are ready to learn and they are passionate about what they want to do,” he said. “We like hobbies, but we don’t want them to come in and think it’s a hobby. It’s a company. We want to develop entrepreneurship.

Once accepted, customers will be charged a fee, Romero said, but the board has yet to set that.

Following advice from the feasibility study, the incubator will start small. By 2025, the plan is to become a hybrid of mixed-use incubator and kitchen, supporting 30-40 customers. The average customer will be in the incubator two to four years, Romero said.

Another board member and local real estate agent, Loedi Silva, said the incubator would be a great resource.

“It would have been great to have some of those resources in my startup business,” Silva said.

For more information, visit vcbi.org, or contact Romero by phone or text at 505-514-5555 or by email at [email protected]