The Small Business Administration is promoting "incubators."
These incubators have nothing to do with eggs or chicks. Instead they are "breeders" for fledgling firms.
The idea is to bring together under one roof a group of businesses that can share services -- from computers to typing pools -- and experiences. The partnership is designed to help the firms survive their first few years.
John R. Cox, director of the SBA's Office of Private Sector Initiatives, said, "We came up with the idea of promoting something that the private sector has been doing now for about 10 years to see if we could help spur the economy in some locally depressed areas." The results, he said, are "phenomenal."
In Chicago, this summer, more than 1,000 people wanted to come to an SBA incubator conference designed for about half that number. The conference was designed to explain how firms could become landlords of the office parks and industrial complexes that would sign up the budding businesses as tenants. The program, Cox points out, costs the federal government "not a dime" except staff time.
The prospective "incubator leaders" were told how to find buildings and what types of tenants to consider to assure that the proper mix of services and resources are available.
More than two dozen of these incubators have been created over the past 15 years, and Cox believes that with an organized push from the SBA, the idea can "really take off."
Samantha Silva, a presidential management intern in Cox's office, is now studying the possiblity of using rundown historic buildings in inner cities as the site of future incubators. Incubator planners thus would be able to take advantage of federal tax credits for renovating the structures. While Silva has talked to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and other preservation groups about the concept, the SBA hierarchy still hasn't signed off on it. GREAT IDEA, BUT . . .
The SBA, with the Reagan administration's support, SBA Office of Private Sector Initiatives close of Congress that would authorize "small parts breakout centers" at all 35 military installations that purchase at least $150 million in spare parts each year. The centers are designed to encourage military procurement officials to direct contracts to small businesses, rather than the prime contractor who originally sold the weapon or machine to the Defense Department.
Now, however, the SBA has determined that it will need a supplemental appropriation of between $2 million and $3 million and 90 new employes to do the job. A senior SBA official said, "We're preparing for a fight. I don't think the Office of Management and Budget is going to buy it. The new centers are required, but we don't have the resources." A DISASTROUS FEDERAL ACTION? . . .
SBA officials were surprised when they started reviewing public comments on regulations in a new federal disaster-assistance program that was published in August. The program is designed to mitigate the losses small businesses suffer as a result of "a federal action." The rules, as proposed, apply to farmers who were hurt when the Reagan administration's payments-in-kind program barred them from growing crops and to businesses along the Mexican border that suffered when the peso was devalued.
But a sizable group of comments came from Virginia poultry farmers, who contended that they had suffered when the Agriculture Department ordered them to kill their healthy turkeys last summer to prevent an avian-influenza outbreak from spreading beyond the Shenandoah Valley. The farmers said the final regulations should be rewritten to include them.
Bernard Kulik, SBA's deputy associate administrator for disaster assistance, said the agency still has to decide whether the USDA quarantine amounts to an adverse federal action. "It just goes to show how writing a rule to cover one thing can open the door to something unexpected," he said. MINORITY BUSINESSES. . .
When the books closed on fiscal 1984, the SBA says, it had helped push federal agencies to set aside $2.65 billion worth of federal contracts for minority and disadvantaged businesses -- a new record. SBA administrator James C. Sanders said the amount "reflects President Reagan's commitment to support minority-owned businesses and SBA's continuing efforts to widen the . . . program." Most of the increase went to Hispanic-owned businesses. Black firms received $1.49 billion worth of setaside contracts in fiscal 1984 compared with $1.5 billion in fiscal 1983. Hispanics got $388 million in fiscal 1983 and $768 million in fiscal 1984.