Since 1989, more than 40 new companies have successfully graduated from the Tyler Area Business Incubator. Those companies are now producing jobs, tax revenue and economic growth for the area, thanks to the incubator.
Sponsored by Tyler Junior College and closely allied with the local Small Business Development Center and SCORE chapter, TABI has produced two national award-winning incubator graduate companies and numerous jobs. Businesses locating at TABI receive much more than office space; they also receive advice, consulting and support. New incubator clients are required to take a six-week management skills class covering topics such as accounting, strategic planning, financial analysis, legal and tax issues, marketing and banking.
"The Small Business Development Center is right next door to us, so business owners can go see them to talk about their business plans and other startup issues," says Tony Tadasa, TABI's director for the past 15 years. "Business owners also get advice from them and from me, and they are able to support each other and exchange information in a collaborative atmosphere."
The incubator was originally envisioned as a place to develop biotechnology companies, but because the market was small, TABI eventually evolved into a mixed-use incubator. Over the past 15 years, as Tyler has become a hub for medical businesses, TABI has become home to a number of medical and health-care companies. Currently, 13 companies are located there.
TABI allowed Exceptional Home Care, a pediatric home health agency, to establish a presence in Tyler while keeping startup costs at a minimum, says owner Deborah Tinsley.
The company was located in the incubator for about 18 months, until it needed more space to continue growing. "While we were no longer in the incubator, [incubator staff] remained in contact with us and assisted us when needed. We were able to draw upon their expertise and experience during those first crucial years. They were both very encouraging and helpful as we struggled daily to keep up with our growth."
In 2007, Exceptional Home Care was named Outstanding Incubator Graduate by the National Business Incubator Association. In 2010, another TABI graduate, Edge Medical Supply, received the same award. And in 2013, still another TABI graduate, FIber Network Solutions, received the recognition.
TABI is well run and efficient, but it has also been successful because of its location in Tyler, a business-friendly city, Tadasa says. "There are two colleges here, and the atmosphere of the city includes many well-educated, business-minded people," he says.
The city's location makes it an especially good place for growing medical-related businesses. "Tyler is in the perfect position between Dallas, Shreveport and Houston," Tinsley says. "It has an exceptional medical community, and continues to attract medical personnel. It is considered an excellent place to retire and attracts people from other states."