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Innovation Center firms created 344 jobs last year
Study tracks economic impact of Ohio University's small business incubator

July 23, 200
By Andrea Gibson

Six companies in Ohio University's Innovation Center created 344 jobs and generated $12.6 million in labor income in Athens County in 2006, according to a new study. 

The report shows an increase in the economic impact of the university's small business incubator from 2004, when the Innovation Center reported the creation of 211 jobs and $7.6 million in local labor income. 

"Our goal for the Innovation Center is to have a positive impact on the economy by helping technology-based companies create higher-than-average paying jobs," said Linda Clark, the center's director. "This study shows that we're fulfilling our mission."

In 2006, almost two-thirds of the 344 jobs were created directly by Innovation Center companies. The remaining positions were created indirectly in Athens County, either by businesses that supplied goods and services to those companies or as a result of employees of the Innovation Center spending part of their wages at businesses in the area. 

Innovation Center companies also created $9.5 million in labor income from direct employment and $673,000 in labor income from outsourcing. An estimated $794,000 in labor income was created for Athens County firms that supplied goods and services to Innovation Center members. 

When employees of Innovation Center businesses spent their wages, they contributed another $1.7 million to the local economy, with the greatest increases seen in the retail trade and health and social services sectors, according to the study, which was conducted by the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University.

Among the six start-up businesses included in the study was Diagnostic Hybrids Inc., which develops and manufactures medical diagnostic kits. The biotech company, which now has 170 employees, recently announced plans to move into the former McBee manufacturing facility on East State Street in Athens.

The other businesses were Third Sun Solar & Wind Power, a renewable energy system dealer, installer and service provider that recently added its 15th employee; Media Brite, a Web and print design firm; DM Consulting, which specializes in human resource management; Interthyr Inc., a biotech firm; and Results On Shore, which offers an alternative to business processing done offshore. 

The National Business Incubation Association, the world's leading organization advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship, praised the Innovation Center for its economic impact study.

"Not every incubator manager prioritizes the time necessary to track this data, which is absolutely essential to have so that the community and the incubator's stakeholders understand the true impact of the incubation program," said Meredith Erlewine, director of publications for the Athens, Ohio-based association. "We would like to see more incubators track data and produce reports like this." 

Several of the companies in the study will graduate within the next year, and Clark will seek new start-ups to join the program, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2008.

"Space is opening up, and we're looking forward to building successful companies all over again," she said. "That's what we're here for -- to help entrepreneurs create companies, move into the community and create jobs."

The Innovation Center, located on West State Street in Athens, is part of the Vice President for Research division at Ohio University. For more information, visit the Web at http://innovationcenter.ohio.edu.

The full text of the study is expected to be available on the Web later today. Visit http://innovationcenter.ohio.edu and look under the heading "Innovation Center News" to find a link to the report.

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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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