Westchester County is starting a program to help businesses get started and grow in the county with the idea that once properly launched, they’ll become a permanent part of the county’s business landscape. The incubator program is called Element 46.
County Executive George Latimer unveiled the program during a ceremony at the opening of The Business Council of Westchester’s Expo at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook on March 28. Element 46 is designed to provide entrepreneurs whose businesses are in the early stages of development with viable business ideas with free workspace, free mentoring from experts, free professional services and team-building and skills sessions.
“By bringing together the very best entrepreneurial ideas and supporting them with the immense talent and resources of this county, I’m confident that we’ll be able to cultivate high-growth companies that will drive economic development for Westchester and also serve as a great reminder of the benefits of working, living and playing right in our county,” Latimer said.
At first, 15 entrepreneurs will be selected to participate. Applications can be made through the Element 46 website, element46.org. The online applications are due by April 26. The launch of activities for the first group is planned for the end of June and the first round of the program is expected to run until October. While the Element 46 program will attempt to support investor interest in the fledgling businesses, it makes no guarantee of funding.
The county is soliciting owners of existing coworking spaces to apply to host a cohort of startups. The county will reimburse the host location a fixed amount for each startup that resides in their space.
“We’re starting in a measured way,” Bridget Gibbons, director of economic development for the county told the Business Journal. “The goal is to make it grow.” She said she has been in touch with both the state and federal governments in an effort to find funding for future expansion. “There is interest, but no commitment right now,” she said. Gibbons said that she’d like to see a second round of incubator activity involving up to 40 entrepreneurs, and then ultimately have it expand into an even bigger program.
The name Element 46 was chosen, in part, because the 46th element in science’s periodic table of elements is Palladium, which happens to be a catalyst, something which causes a chemical reaction or an event to take place. Gibbons told the Business Journal that something else also went into selecting the name: “There are 45 municipalities in Westchester and the county is the 46th element,” she said.