Business incubator helps West Dayton startups thrive

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DAYTON, Ohio — To her cook, LaTeasa Spears had a dream. A mother of five, she wanted to give other moms across the country a way to unwind, and she hoped her homemade candles would do the trick.

Two years later, wax, scented oil, and packing material fill her living room shelves, as she uses whatever time she can find to keep her things, Perfume Loc’d N, growth. Now, however, Spears has a new ally to help her along the way, the Dayton Greater West Business Incubator.


What do you want to know

  • West Dayton business incubator opened in December 2021
  • The organization helps small businesses get started
  • The incubator hopes to help grow the business community in West Dayton
  • Participants said it helped them find funding sources and improve their marketing strategies

Barkley speaks to Business Blitz students

A partnership between local leaders and the University of Dayton, the Greater West Dayton Business Incubator officially opened in December 2021 and began taking on clients and offering programs in the new year.

According to center director Whitney Barkley, its goal is to break down the knowledge and resource barriers that have prevented entrepreneurship and small businesses from thriving in neighborhoods west of Dayton.

“We’re one of the only organizations that really have a foothold here west of Dayton and we want to make sure accessibility is there for all of our contractors,” she said. “We want them to come away with new information and refreshed and take their business to the next level.”

Spears participates in the Business Blitz

The incubator began to focus on education and financing, launching a micro-loan program and a series of courses throughout February called “Business Blitz”.

Spears was one of the first students.

“I’ve done a lot of these things on my own, so it’s helpful to get inspiration and expertise from people who have done it before,” she said. “I don’t know if there was ever anything like that that was so important to seeing small businesses thrive.”

She said the incubator helped her navigate the processes of filing taxes and finding financial support, as well as tips on how to leverage branding and social media marketing. .

“Because TikTok is the big thing now,” she said.

Anthony Cunningham, owner of Kiara Wine, is another precocious learner who benefits from programming. He said he had experience running a nonprofit, but he said the incubator helped him develop those skills.

“I’m excited because I can see the growth and the dream turning into reality,” he said.

The incubator has been under construction since 2019, but its 2021 opening came at a surprisingly timely time.

According to United States Census Bureau, there has been an increase in new business apps as a result of the pandemic. Last year, more than 5.4 million startups submitted applications, beating the previous record set in 2020.

Despite the increase, the incubator recognizes that most entrepreneurs struggle to make it through the first five years of business. Barkley said his center wanted to make the path to success as easy as possible.

“We are able to overcome some of the obstacles that may be present for their business and ultimately we want them to come away with new information and be refreshed and ultimately take their business to the next level,” he said. she declared.

Spears creates a TikTok to promote her business

As Spears strives to grow her business, she said she also hopes to help change the culture around entrepreneurship in her community.

“That’s one of the things I take so much about running my own business, having my kids see me doing this stuff and being successful,” she said. “So they can see that they can do it too. I think that’s what we bring to Dayton West.

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