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Training Ground

Export help from a business incubator and more.

In 1995, exporting was the last thing on Cassie Koehne's mind. Although she was eager to market her company's Eco-Aromatic Systems' odor eliminator product, she says, "Exporting had never entered our minds."

The Decatur Industry and Technology Center (DITC), the incubator in which Eco-Aromatics had set up shop, changed all that. Within a year, Koehne's Decatur, Illinois, company was not only selling to domestic customers but exporting successfully as well.

Most incubators offer their tenants help in launching their businesses not only domestically but also abroad. "We want to help businesses get comfortable with the idea of going international," says DITC manager Donna Bland. To that end, DITC educates companies about exporting, sends them to self-employment training classes, and hosts speakers on the subject.

Being in the incubator helped Koehne form close friendships with the other incubator tenants and former tenants--some of whom were export veterans. Through these relationships, Koehne gathered valuable exporting information and much-needed emotional support. "It's an ideal situation for starting [to export]," she says.

For a list of contacts in incubators worldwide, order a copy of the SPICA Directory 1996/97 by calling the National Business Incubation Association at (614) 593-4331. The directory costs $42 for nonmembers and $30 for members.

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This article was originally published in the June 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Training Ground.

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