NACET helping business in Arizona

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- From growing human skin to bottling fine wine to building solar panels to protecting your bike, all of these Arizona businesses have one thing in common.

They are getting a helping hand to make sure they and the entire state thrive.

All you have to do is listen in at the door of Protein Genomics to know they are working on something special.

“These are actually aortic cells, “ said one scientist at the facility.

”We manufacture these proteins so we can make constructs to make body parts," described Dr. Robert Kellar.

But Kellar said scientists at Protein Genomics are not experts in another essential skill for a company trying to grow.

“Developing business plans, how to go find dollars from investors. How to speak to investors, how to build business plans, how to build marketing plans," said Kellar.

But inside a snug building in the shadow of the San Francisco Peaks, they don't have to be business experts; this is NACET, Northern Arizona Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology. 

“Basically NACET is a business incubation program where we assess early stage entrepreneurs in commercializing their technologies both domestically and internationally," said NACET CEO Russ Yelton.

But it goes further than labs or office space at NACET.

“Helping the entrepreneur realize what areas of the business they are actually good in and where they should spend their time," said Yelton. "So our staff will work with them to determine the feasibility. We also rely heavily on our mentors group which is over 80 individuals, intellectual property attorneys, CPAs, marketing experts and others that donate pro bono time. Here we have all the ingredients, different kinds of ingredients.”

So for example, the folks at Sun&Skin not only have a place to mix, bottle and label their sun protection products, they have someone to help design logos and build their web page.

“So basically a small startup company can act like a mid-size company or even a large company with the types of resources it has access to without the big price tag,” said Dr. Kellar back over at Protein Genomics.

In fact, small businesses that go through an incubation program like NACET have an 80 percent survival rate, compared to 20 percent without. Yelton said that success comes with a pay-off for all of us.

“We know when we grow companies locally they invest locally they hire locally, the roots are deeper," Yelton explained.

It's estimated NACET companies have pumped $29 million into the regional economy, while
creating more than 150 jobs with average annual salaries of $70,000.

Making the business of nurturing business good business.

NACET is based in Flagstaff, but partners with a new business incubator at Gateway Community College.