The City of Decatur and Decatur Downtown Development Authority (DDA) have launched a retail recruitment incubator, which will provide online-only businesses with the opportunity to test their concepts in a brick-and-mortar location for a six-month period.
The DDA allocated $25,000 for the, which will provide rental assistance toward a pop-up or co-op space for up to six businesses currently operating either solely online or in festival/expo settings. In addition to negotiating the short-term leases for the six-month term, the incubator will offer a training and mentorship component to help recipients gain institutional and invaluable knowledge from a wide array of successful members of the business community, including fellow small business owners, accountants, bank representatives and more.
“This incubator program presents a tremendous opportunity to entrepreneurs who have built a strong business online and are confident the market will support a physical presence,” said Conor McNally, DDA chair. “Our research showed similar programs have been very successful in places like Memphis, Tenn., and Dayton, Ohio, so we are excited for the economic growth and innovation this can spur for Decatur.”
To be eligible for the retail incubator, applicants must have been operating for at least two years, have no more than 10 employees, pay for half of the rent associated with the temporary space, share income statements and produce a business plan. The application window is open now and closes on Sept. 5 at 5 p.m., with up to 10 finalists chosen by Sept. 12. The six winners will ultimately be selected by Sept. 15 and moved into the retail space by Oct. 15.
“From The Square to the Old Depot District, our economy is largely built on experiences, so the incubator is an investment both in our future and budding entrepreneurs,” said Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett. “This program signals Decatur is committed to bringing people back together and supporting the brick-and-mortar retailers that make our culture second to none.”