Carson City is moving back into economic development.
The Board of Supervisors will vote today whether to enter into an agreement with the Hop & Mae Adams Foundation to take over the Adams Hub business incubator.
The donation agreement includes a three-year lease on the downtown building at Carson and Proctor streets, valued at $176,190 annually, and a $600,000, grant spread out over three years, for operations.
In that time, if the supervisors accept the donation, the city will run the incubator, conduct a study to determine Carson City’s economic development needs, re-evaluate the organization’s services, and decide if Adams Hub can be a self-sustaining enterprise.
“It is an experiment for our community,” said Sena Loyd, library director, who will oversee the Special Library Services Program for Economic Development.
Loyd said the policy goal is to cover 25 percent of operating costs within the first year, 50 percent in the second, and 75 percent in the third, to ensure that it can operate independently before the city would take it over for good.
The deal allows for the city to terminate the arrangement if it determines Adams Hub can’t support itself, or to renegotiate for continued support from the foundation.
Loyd said the library was the logical home for the venture.
“Libraries are knowledge spaces. We offer more than books. We teach coding to kids. We have a maker space, a mobile maker space,” said Loyd.
The library also assists people who want to start new businesses with research.
“We’re already doing that, this lets us contribute more,” said Loyd.
The library has also partnered with Adams Hub from the start, taking part in its New Entrepreneurs Network, a program for supporting student entrepreneurs, managed by Molly Dahl.
Dahl will continue once the library takes over as will Matt Westfield, the entrepreneur in residence at Adams Hub.
Valerie Cauhape will join as business development manager, a position that already exists within the city budget and that will be moved from the city manager’s office to the library.
The position has been vacant since February 2017, when Michael Salogga, then business development manager, moved over to the Carson City Senior Center to become its business manager.
Cauhape, who oversaw Carson City Health & Human Services accreditation process in 2016, will conduct a survey.
“We want to do a gap study and see what the needs are,” said Loyd, including the types of businesses that residents want to see in Carson City.
Loyd hopes to host hackathons, which bring together programmers and others involved in software development, to create new applications in a marathon coding event.
Loyd recently took part in one in Reno, in which she helped develop an application for The Littlest Things, a Carson City non-profit. The application, which should be available soon, gives users a graphic interface for ordering services.
Westfield, the entrepreneur in residence, is working on bringing pitchfests to Adams Hub, in which start-ups present their business ideas to a panel of investors in order to raise money.
Loyd said she wants Adams Hub to also work with existing businesses to help them face challenges.
“The Hub hasn’t focused too much on business retention,” she said.
Another new focus will likely be workforce training, both providing some workshops and putting people in touch with additional training resources.
And the new management will re-evaluate membership costs and fees for services to ensure the incubator is covering its costs.
Adams Hub has three membership tiers. It has 15 offices and should be at capacity by September, said Loyd, and its co-working space is close to full. It also offers space for students, which will be marketed more to Western Nevada College.
Loyd said anyone with ideas or feedback can email her at email@example.com.
“We’re trying to gauge community desires and what they want out of a business incubator,” said Loyd. “And if not incubating, what does the community want and need and what will it support.”