Providing resources for communities and entrepreneurs to create and retain jobs in Antrim, Charlevoix & Cheboygan Counties.

Business Incubators, Launch Pads, and Pop-Ups, Oh My!

Entrepreneurs know it’s tough to get started, and breaking into a new market can be a hard sell. The good news is, options are “popping up” all over to help alleviate some of those initial growing pains and launch a new business toward success.

Business incubators offer a guiding hand through the process of starting a business through operating the first few years. Incubators are designed to give credibility to their tenants by using advisory boards of seasoned business professionals, government officials, and economic organizations like Northern Lakes Economic Alliance. An added bonus to the advisory support generally comes in the form of a tiered rent schedule to allow the new business to focus on initial startup costs.

The Village at Walloon plays host to 14 seasonal pop up shops, adding variety to local shopping options and serving as a testing ground for burgeoning entrepreneurs.

Business Launch Pads focus on the rent schedule to send new businesses toward success. A typical rent schedule will take an increasing percentage of fair market value over the course of three or more years. For example, if fair market value on a space is $900/month, a launch pad might charge $300/month for the first year, $600/month for the second year, and full value the third year. After the full increase in rent, businesses can stay on at market value, or move on to bigger and better plans with secure footing from their first few years of business experience.

If a business sees itself as a more seasonal or temporary opportunity, they may seek out a pop up space. Pop up spaces provide smaller spaces and shorter rental time frames, generally monthly or quarterly. Pop up businesses can consist of anything from a full commercial space, to a window or shelf display in an existing business. The trick with pop ups is to work closely with local government to be sure the building types and transient leases meet municipal codes.

If you are interested in how an incubator, launch pad, or pop up space could help your downtown, contact Northern Lakes Economic Alliance at

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