St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center
The St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center, a new facility serving business growth and development in the St. Croix Valley is now open. The facility offers private offices, light manufacturing, and co-working space in addition to business advisers and coaches for entrepreneurs and business owners.
The St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center (SCVBIC) is a collaborative partnership among the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, City of River Falls, Chippewa Valley Technical College, and the regional economic development community. Once established, the SCVBI will serve as a one-stop location for the coordinated delivery of business development services in the region.
If you are interested in learning more about the services and opportunities that will be provided through this collaborative space, please contact Danielle Campeau with the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Center for Innovation and Business Development. Questions about the construction of the facility can be directed to Scot Simpson or Keri Schreiner.
US EDA Grant Award
The City of River Falls, River Falls Economic Development Corporation, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and the Chippewa Valley Technical College have been awarded a $1.4 million grant for the creation and construction of the St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center. Please see the Press Release for more information.
With the assistance of the West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and the support of the regional business community, the partners submitted an application for the Investments for Public Works and Economic Assistance program. Through this program, the US Economic Development Administration provides a 50 percent matching grant for the construction of economic development facilities like the St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Grant Award
The St. Croix Valley Business Incubator has also received a $250,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Other costs and resources have already been committed, including land, infrastructure, and site preparation. The SCVBIC will have approximately 13,000 square feet dedicated to general manufacturing and about 18,000 square feet occupied by offices and common areas. View the floor plans and building elevations.
Starting in 2010, interested organizations and leaders began looking at the key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within the City of River Falls and its surrounding counties, as part of a regional planning effort. This process found (1) significant numbers of business start-ups; (2) high percentages of small business failures; (3) high population growth compared to the rest of the State; (4) below average earnings; (5) established companies interested in spinning off new business ventures; and (6) a desire to better connect University resources with the business community.
These findings led to the establishment of a more formalized working group comprised of representatives from the City of River Falls, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Chippewa Valley Technical College, area economic development corporations, the business community, and others. Discussions quickly identified the need for a business incubator/accelerator.
In order to evaluate market feasibility, the working group hired the nationally-known Place Dynamics to conduct a feasibility study. The key findings were that there is a market and client base for general business incubation services in the region, with industry concentrations in manufacturing, agriculture, and professional services.
On January 12, 2016, City Council adopted the resolution approving the selection of Ayres Associates for Architectural/Engineering Services for the incubator project. At the same meeting, the City Council also adopted the resolution approving the St. Croix Valley Business Incubator Master Relationship Agreement. This agreement details the commitments of the partners of the St. Croix Valley Business Incubator.
The bidding process for the construction of the St. Croix Valley Business Incubator was split into two Bid Packages. Bid Package 1 includes the pre-engineered metal building system and the materials and labor for installation. Bid Package 2 includes the coordination of the construction of the pre-engineered metal building systems and all other construction required to complete the project.
The bid opening for Bid Package 1 took place on June 16, 2016, and six bids were received. Heartland Contractors submitted the lowest bid of $717,300. The bid opening for Bid Package 2 took place on November 2, 2016, and three bids were received. Ross and Associates, LTD submitted the lowest bid of $2,450,900. City Council approved the resolution approving the St. Croix Valley Business Incubator Bid Package 1 from Heartland Contractors and Bid Package 2 from Ross and Associates on January 24, 2017.
Stay tuned for more updates on the construction of the facility.
River Falls Economic Development Corporation
The St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center will be owned and operated by the River Falls Economic Development Corporation, with governance from a separate Advisory Board. The Advisory Board will have representatives from the City, UWRF, RFEDC, and others, as deemed appropriate by the partners.
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
The University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) has committed resources for this project through the recently-established Center for Innovation and Business Development (CIBD). Danielle Campeau, Director of the CIBD, will also serve as the full-time Incubator Director. UWRF is committed to Supporting Economic Development in the region. Once established, the CIBD and Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will operated out of the Incubator facility.
Chippewa Valley Technical College
The Chippewa Valley Technical College is also a key partner in this project, providing their technical expertise and guidance from developing the widely successful Applied Technology Center incubator in Eau Claire, WI.
City of River Falls
To assist in this project, the City of River Falls has helped coordinate the partnership among UWRF, local and regional economic development corporations, and the regional business community. The City is also donating the lot that will host the Incubator facility in the Sterling Ponds Corporate Park (see below).
Other Key Partners
Regional Economic Development Corporations
West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission
The West Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has also supported this project throughout its stages of development. The WCWRPC is currently coordinating and submitting all the necessary elements of the U.S. EDA Grant Application (details below) on behalf of all the partners.
Sterling Ponds Corporate Park
The SCVBIC will be located in the Sterling Ponds Corporate Park in River Falls. The Sterling Ponds Corporate Park is modeled after its neighbor across STH 35, the Whitetail Corporate Park, which is currently home to several of the region's high-growth businesses as the region's Premier Business Park.
The SCVBIC will be ideally situated along STH 35 through Pierce and St. Croix Counties, just 5 minutes from I-94. It is directly adjacent to the new Radio Road Interchange on the north end of River Falls and centrally located for entrepreneurs in the region.
The SCVBIC, in conjunction with UWRF's Center for Innovation and Business Development, will offer services to persons in the exploratory stages of forming a business; start-up businesses or Stage 1 businesses; existing Stage 2 businesses; and larger, more-established businesses.
Services provided will include affordable rental space; business planning; coaching and mentoring assistance; business software; financial advisory services; market development assistance; export assistance; networking opportunities; and access to UWRF resources. These services will be offered to businesses located both inside and outside the physical incubator space.