Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm
Wayne Staats, owner and manager of the Granville Business Development Center, 9310 N. 107th St., Milwaukee, has been leasing space to small-sized tenants, mostly startup companies, since last summer. At the start of this year, he officially launched his business incubator in the building, designed to serve the city’s northwest side.
The 6,000-square-foot Granville center allows small businesses to lease one or more cubicles or office spaces, and has the typical array of printers, a computer network, meeting space and other features that other incubators have.
Like other incubators, Granville Business Development Center features its own computer network, with email and Internet access. There are also fax machines, telephones and related applications available.
What is different about the Granville center is Staats, who shares his experience as a business owner with his tenants. In his office within the center, Staats offers not only a place for businesses to make the "out of the basement" leap, but also offers them business advice and assistance which can help them make their transition successful.
When new tenants lease space in the Granville business incubator, Staats creates a new Web site for the businesses. Although the Web sites aren’t elaborate, they give the client a framework which can be added on to later.
"It’s easy and not real expensive," Staats said. "And it’s a burden that’s taken off of this person so they can focus on what they need to focus on instead of the BS with all the little stuff."
Staats has several unused computers at the center which can be leased to startup companies that haven’t purchased them yet.
"Someone that’s starting from scratch doesn’t have to buy all that stuff right away," he said.
Staats previously owned Information Solutions, which occupied most of the 6,000-square-foot space. Information Solutions was sold to another company several years ago, and the company eventually closed its Milwaukee operations.
As a member of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s (MMAC) Council of Small Business Executives (COSBE), Staats has a passion for business management and wants to pass his experience on to other companies in the growth stages. Last fall, as he started helping some of his smaller tenants with their businesses, he got the idea to start a new incubator.
"As I was helping these companies, some of them had serious businesses issues they didn’t know how to deal with," he said. "They needed help. I’ve always loved business management. I’ve always loved the excitement of startups and growth companies. I started helping folks."
At the same time, Staats thought it would be difficult to find the right tenant that would lease all of the available 6,000 square feet. Leasing smaller spaces to startup or growing companies that needed flexible leases became more appealing.
Helping startup companies with their accounting needs or coaching them through a difficult situation is also appealing to Staats, because of his passion for new businesses.
"I’m here to encourage them and help them when they have an issue," he said.
Starting a new business incubator on Milwaukee’s northwest side also made sense to Staats because there isn’t any similar center around, he said.
"The northwest part of Milwaukee is underserved in that respect," he said. Staats has started talks with the Granville Historic Corporation and Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), to ask them to help steer new tenants toward the Granville Business Development Center.
The Granville center has also started working with the YWCA, which has its own business development program. Staats is hoping to attract businesses that are moving out of the YWCA program into his incubator, where they could further grow and develop.
"And if they’re full, we can also pick up those (businesses) that can’t get in," he said.
Staats, through his membership in the COSBE board, is also a board member of the CEOs of Growing Businesses. The CEOs of Growing Businesses recently started the Inventors and Entrepreneurs Forum of Greater Milwaukee, dedicated to connecting inventors with entrepreneurs interested in manufacturing the inventors’ ideas. We Energies, MEDC, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Network are also helping to promote the Inventors and Entrepreneurs Forum, Staats said. The group’s first meeting is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 20 at Summit Place in West Allis. A Web site has been started at www.gbdc.biz/I&EFORUM.
Ultimately, Staats’ involvement in the new group is aimed at both helping the economy in southeastern Wisconsin and the occupancy rates at his new business incubator.
"The idea is to focus and help create businesses, because that’s what inventors and entrepreneurs do," he said. "And maybe they have a need for office space and some assistance."