The Port of Lewiston incubator program was created to help manufacturing entrepreneurs succeed. According to the Small Business Administration and a 2014 Washington Post article, about half of small businesses do not survive the first five years. The POL incubator program is designed to provide entrepreneurs stability when they are starting so they can focus on making quality products and business investments that bolster the local economy.
“(The Port of Lewiston keeps) the American dream alive at a time when it’s really hard,” Coco Umiker told a crowd at the June 11, 2015 POL budget hearing, according to a subsequent article in the Lewiston Tribune. Umiker is co-owner of Clearwater Canyon Cellars, the 2015 Idaho Winery of the Year and tenant in the Port of Lewiston incubator building.
The current incubator building houses four suites designed for manufacturing and production. The program works with businesses to construct improvements necessary to their operations, and each suite includes an overhead door and office space with attractive, structured lease rates to qualifying tenants. Applicants are asked to submit a business plan and must produce a product. They are also asked to provide the number of jobs created by the business as well as their potential for job growth.
The incubator program has assisted diverse businesses and graduated impressive companies like Seekins Precision, a manufacturer of modern sporting rifles, as well as various parts and accessories.
“The Port has been very helpful in the growth of our business and making my dream a reality,” said Seekins Precision co-founder Glen Seekins. “Having the support of a proactive landlord to give us the help we needed and having the additional space to grow as we needed has been very instrumental in our success.
“Our business started in our garage and when we started looking for a building it wasn’t possible because of high rent cost,” Seekins said. “Then we found out about the incubator program.”
Seekins Precision founders constructed their own, brand-new manufacturing facility in 2014 and moved out of the Port of Lewiston incubator building. At the time, the company had grown to over 25 employees.
Port of Lewiston Manager David Doeringsfeld said demand for space in the incubator has been steady. The building is currently full and the Port of Lewiston is looking to expand the program and build an additional incubator facility to meet demand.
“Supporting new businesses is an essential role in our advocacy for local jobs in a global economy,” Doeringsfeld said. “We are pleased by the success of our program so far and anxious to see it grow.”
You can learn more about the Port of Lewiston incubator program here.