Central Ohio is now home to an incubator solely dedicated to helping women as they launch and build businesses.
Founded by Mary McCarthy and Caroline Worley, the Women’s Small Business Accelerator is located at 403-409 W. Main St. in Westerville. It occupies a little more than 6,000 square feet of space that is divided into four suites, two kitchens, and three conference rooms, including one designed to accommodate free-flowing creative meetings.
The accelerator also has a training space for workshops and seminars that features free wi-fi, a projector, a whiteboard, and seating for up to 30 people.
“Women business owners are the fastest growing segment of new business,” says McCarthy, adding that between 1997 and 2006, the number of majority women-owned businesses increased 42 percent, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research.
“If we want women business owners to continue to develop and grow, we need to provide support and mentoring,” she says.
The WSBA will do that through monthly peer-to-peer roundtables (fees for the roundtables are included in tenants’ monthly rent), and by offering a discount for use of the training facility and all educational programs.
The training room can be rented for two hours, a half day, or a full day, with rent ranging from $100 to $300.
The WSBA has about 35 workspaces, including private offices and cubicles, that will be available for lease starting in October. Cubicles cost $225 per month and offices cost up to $550 per month (for one of four large offices with a window).
John Zettler, owner of Zettler Hardware stores and Worley’s father, owns the building where the WSBA is housed and has provided the space rent-free until the incubator is up and running, McCarthy says, allowing she and Worley to invest in the build-out with limited risk to success. (The women are also the co-founders of Your Management Team.)
Most business incubators have a tech focus, but that’s not the case at the WSBA, McCarthy says, which will help separate it from others in Central Ohio.
“While technology has its place, we can achieve tremendous business growth by supporting women business owners,” she adds. “If all the women businesses hire one or two individuals due to mentoring and guidance, we have positively impacted our economy and the families of the women business owners.”
The WSBA’s board of directors currently includes Sandy Blanquera, founder of Social Boomerang; Sharon DeLay, owner of BoldlyGO Career & HR Management; Shannon Feucht, business development specialist at the Small Business Administration’s Columbus office; Tom Guy, business development executive at Innovate New Albany; and Mary Relotto, founder of Dames Bond.