Last week the Coulee Region Business Center, in conjunction with the La Crosse Area Development Corporation, who is the management entity, held an open house to acknowledge and celebrate the impact the organization has on the Coulee Region.
Established in 1986, the Coulee Region Business Center (CRBC) is a not-for-profit organization that provides entrepreneurial resources to help small start-up companies throughout the La Crosse area.
The facility, located at 1100 Kane St., consists of 35,000 square feet of space with rental rates roughly 15%—25% less than similar space in the community. The center also offers a plethora of business support services through its partners at the UW–La Crosse Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), Couleecap, Inc., the City of La Crosse and many others.
The goal of the CRBC is to “graduate” tenants into market-rate spaces throughout the Coulee Region once they have become self-sustaining businesses—generally taking three to five years.
Since its inception, the CRBC has had over 75 businesses come through the facility, while 31 “graduates” are still in operation somewhere throughout the area. Successful graduates include Wyatt Bicycles (Bangor), Pappi’s Taqueria y Mas (West Salem), Hmong’s Golden Eggrolls (La Crosse), and AMV, LLC. (La Crosse).
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The facility has 13 spaces intended for light manufacturing or retail, five office spaces, and an 1,800 Square Foot shared-use commercial kitchen that has room for six full-time food businesses. Currently, the center has 11 manufacturing/retail tenants, four office tenants, and six kitchen tenants, all looking to realize their business dreams through the assistance of the Coulee Region Business Center.
The open house featured a guided tour by CRBC manager Sam Bachmeier, networking opportunities, and speaking engagements from community leaders. Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation CEO, Secretary Melissa Hughes, offered the keynote.
She identified the major impact that small businesses have on the Wisconsin economy. According to the United State Small Business Administration, small businesses make up 99.4% of the Wisconsin businesses, employing 50.2% of Wisconsin employees.
La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds identified a statistic from the National Business Incubation Association that states 87% of businesses that start in an incubator achieve success, while businesses that start outside an incubation facility have a 44% success rate. “Success” is defined as being in operation five years after opening.