Create opportunities for incubators. Seek incentives for owners of vacant office/laboratory space, and for developers who build incubator space for startups and for growing businesses.
Lexington needs additional space to encourage more startup businesses, as well as for startups who have outgrown their original space. As new ventures, there are barriers that these young companies must overcome, such as a lack of credit and a need for mid-level space of about 1,000 square feet or larger. Some companies engaging in research and development may require more specialized and larger (around 5,000 square feet) spaces with water, hoods, etc., while some only require Wi-Fi and a small space to occupy. New modern co-working spaces like Base 110 in downtown Lexington provide flexible office space with shared common areas for like-minded professionals to work and collaborate. Additional similar creative working spaces should be pursued to encourage entrepreneurs and new small businesses.
University of Kentucky’s on-campus business incubator, Advanced Science & Technology Commercialization Center (ASTeCC), houses new and rising technology-based companies located within the engineering complex. ASTeCC has 80,000 square feet, and was funded by the Economic Development Administration and Small Business Administration. It currently has about twenty-five companies, two-thirds of which are owned by UK faculty; the rest are from out-of-state. Fifty-nine companies have ‘graduated’ from ASTeCC since it began in 1994. The companies have access to other shared-use facilities on University of Kentucky’s campus, such as the Electron Microscopy Center, Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and Mass Spectrometry Facility.
The Bluegrass Small Business Development Center (SBDC) serves Fayette and 14 counties in the region. The Bluegrass SBDC helps make dream businesses come true by providing business consultants to assist with strategic market research, access to capital and loan packaging assistance, business and strategic plan development, and analysis and start-up assistance, among other services. The consulting is free of charge.
Commerce Lexington assists in placing businesses, not only on new sites, but also in all types of existing buildings. Commerce Lexington keeps an inventory of available locations and works with businesses and other agencies to place businesses looking for space to rent. Landlords of large professional office spaces may be hesitant to divide up those spaces to accommodate a business looking for smaller footprints. However, there is an abundance of vacant office options of many sizes throughout Lexington.