College of the Canyons is known throughout the Santa Clarita Valley as a school where minds are expanded, but now the college is offering the same benefit to local businesses.
Through the college's Economic Development Division, which calls the new University Center home, existing businesses or those trying to start a business can utilize a host of services ranging from training to mentoring.
One department that operates within the Economic Development Division is the Advanced Technologies Incubator (i3), which focuses on helping individuals or companies with issues relating to the field of technology.
"We provide mentoring and support services to technology-based entrepreneurs to move them toward commercial viability," said Joe Klocko, Interim Director of the i3 incubator.
The i3 incubator works with departments like the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and the Employee Training Institute (ETI), which are all housed within the Economic Development Center. It operates in a separate function as well, offering a significantly more focused area of help and expertise.
"Our mentors are deep in something very specific like tax information, while the SBDC advisors are broad," said Klocko.
This isn't to say that one is superior to the other, because they all operate with the goal of empowering a small business; but the incubator is able to take that help one step further.
The i3 offers 5-10 hours of mentoring pro bono, but its mentors are able to develop business relationships with the clients, where business mentors from the SBDC cannot because of Small Business Administration regulations.
"My mentors are not precluded from a subsequent business relationship," said Klocko.
Those looking to utilize the services offered by the incubator must apply for the help and then be selected.
The advisory board reviews the applications looking at business models, goals and the product and determines if the i3 is the right choice.
Potential clients may be turned away if they don't fit the criteria, but they can be deffered to the SBDC or ETI to develop their business before meeting with the i3.
In addition to offering mentoring, the incubator can help businesses find facilities to test products, locate offices to operate out of, and connect them with people that can further their goal.
"We're the best kept secret in the Santa Clarita Valley," said Klocko.
The incubator doesn't do all of the work for its clients but it does help point them in the right direction.
For more information on the Advanced Technologies Incubator and all the services offered through the Economic Development Division click here.