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'Business incubator' sought
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MONROE - New and expanding businesses in Green County could get a boost with start-up costs for offices and manufacturing space by next year.

Monroe is being considered by Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission as the location of a new business incubator facility.

The business incubator facility would supply shared resources for new and developing businesses, whose owners are ready to take the next step in expanding but don't have the capital needed to relocate into a building of their own.

Anna Schramke, executive director of the Green County Development Corporation, said it is hard to know who is working in their basements, but going elsewhere when expanding.

"According to our inventory of spaces, there is not a lot of space for good manufacturing-related enterprises," she said. "Some may have space for manufacturing, but need sales offices."

Ed White, an economic development manager with the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, said the commission has never had a project in Monroe.

But the commission has been considering the city for some time, he said.

"We wanted to do something in Monroe, and this looks like an opportunity," White said.

Dubbed the Monroe Enterprise Center, the building would offer office and manufacturing spaces to a wide variety of businesses by 2012, White said.

The facility would furnish tenants with shared resources, like a central conference room and technology equipment.

White noted similar facilities are in operation in Platteville and Benton, with businesses such as construction and electrical contractors and cleaning services. White sees the Monroe center offering space for warehousing and manufacturing, a particular need for the cheesemaking industry.

The building would be about 20,000 square feet, half constructed for small office spaces, and the other half partitioned into 2,000-square-foot manufacturing suites.

Tenants of the facility would need to meet certain criteria for participation and would have occupancy time limits.

City participation typically amounts to a donation of land, about five acres, White said. A feasibility study is being conducted. White has been interviewing potential tenants and said he has received positive response.

In conjunction with his interviews, SW Wisconsin Planning Commission will be looking at a survey being done by the Green County Development Corporation (GCDC). Schramke said the surveys will go out next week to various individuals who have expressed interest in expanding or starting a small business. White presented the idea of developing the center at the City of Monroe Plan Commission Wednesday. The commissioners expressed interest in White continuing his feasibility study.

"I think we are unanimous to exploring this," said Mayor Bill Ross. "If we're all about economic growth, this is a segue to look at."

Anyone interested in participating in the GCDC survey can contact the GCDC office in the Green County courthouse, or call 328-9452.