20 High St., Hamilton
- At its peak, housed 38 tenants; currently has 22 tenants. Over the last 10 years since the center was created, more than 31 businesses have “graduated”
- “The concept is bring the entrepreneur in, give them all the resources and help you possibly can, then as they grow, they prosper and become more independent,” said Marilyn Collmer, BizTech manager from 2003 to 2013.
- “For nearly a year, we have been reaching out to regional incubators, start-up organizations, and set upon a partnership model that utilizes the best resources in the region to make Hamilton the northern start-up hub which serves Southwest Ohio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Chris Lawson, new interim executive director of BizTech, and former Hamilton assistant city manager, in a statement.
Several changes are taking place at BizTech Center, a nonprofit providing services to new business start-ups.
The center, located at 20 High St. in Hamilton’s former city municipal building, was established in 2003. The space provides discount office space, mentoring and other services to start-up business owners. As a Small Business Development Center office, counselors also advise tenants, local existing business owners and other entrepreneurs in the community on strategic planning, marketing and gaining access to financial capital.
BizTech “graduates” are businesses that have grown strong enough to operate independently and move out of the center into the local area.
Marilyn Collmer, who helped establish the center and has been its manager for 10 years, resigned as of Tuesday.
It’s “time to go for more challenges in my career. I’m interested in pursuing more opportunities in Dayton and the Miami Valley region,” Collmer said. “I think it’s time for me to pursue those opportunities.”
She owns a property management company in the Dayton area with her family.
“I’m very honored to have improved the Hamilton community and its economy and small business development and job creation,” she said.
Collmer’s resignation follow a string of other recent changes that have occurred in the last six months, according to city officials:
• The center has a new mission: “BizTech accelerates the growth of early stage companies capable of creating highly commercializable products primarily in the sectors of advanced manufacturing, clean technology and software;”
• New performance measures for tenants and the center’s operators are being put in place;
• New board members have been named to provide leadership of the organization, and the members have a background in assisting and funding start-ups. They include regional business leaders;
• The website is being relaunched, and the center has a new logo; and
• BizTech officials have started working with Cincinnati business incubator Cintrifuse to provide consulting services to tenants.
Additionally, the center’s board of directors approved in December naming city employee Chris Lawson as interim executive director effective Wednesday. Prior to this position, Lawson was assistant city manager.
The changes illustrate the serious emphasis city government is placing on fostering entrepreneurship, seen to be just as important to creating jobs as attracting large new companies here, Lawson said.
“I don’t think we have fully transitioned to what we’re becoming,” Lawson said. “I think over the next few months, it’s moving from discussions to action.”
“The office space being inexpensive should not be a key attraction to start-ups,” he said. “It should be the mentors that we’re able to garner, the private venture capital connections we’re able to make, the great advice we’re able to link them to with the SBDC, along with a myriad of other resources practically, financially, and industry experts to help them launch in a more accelerated timeframe.”