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GPTC breaks ground on new business incubator

LAWTON, Okla._Great Plains Technology Center broke ground in Lawton Tuesday for its new business center, which will provide an assistance program for entrepreneurs.

The new facility will be a 29,000-square-foot business incubator center and will focus on entrepreneurs who are wanting to start businesses in light manufacturing, commercial food production and commercial arts.

The difference between GPTC’s business incubator and the one already in place at Cameron University all comes down to the type of entrepreneurships. The one at Cameron, the Center for Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Studies or CETES, targets more on the technology side and the Great Plains Technology Center incubator does not want to duplicate what they do.

Pat Beck, the business incubator manager at GPTC, is ready to see new businesses grow in Lawton.

"Think about an incubator for chickens, where you put in an egg, you love it, you nurture it and you keep it warm. One day it hatches and it's a chicken. Well, we take entrepreneurs and put them in the incubator and we take care of them, keep them warm and one day they will hatch, move out and go out into the real world," Beck explained.

She says businesses the start in an environment where they are working, learning and sharing together tends to stay in that area where they feel they're being looked after, and nurturing local stable businesses is what Beck hopes for.

"If you don't grow your own, you are going to miss out on the next wave of economic development," Beck said.

Lawton local business owner Larry Massad knows the struggles of getting a business started firsthand, and says community support is a must when it comes to opening up shop. The best way to get that support, he says, is to advertise while also managing everything else.

"You still have to put the hours in, you still have to do the footwork and be there at the shop," Massad said.

Beck says the new facility will give future business owners, or current owners who are starting out, a chance to become self-sufficient companies. She is prepared to lead them on the right path.

"I've owned and operated six businesses, three were failures. I want people to learn from mistakes and not fail, so my passion is small businesses," Beck said.

The building is not expected to be complete for about 14 months, but Beck is encouraging anyone interested to apply now.

"It can take a while to write that business plan, find the financing and make sure you have all your ducks lined up," Beck said.

Beck says anyone who may be interested is free to give her a call at 580-250-5553, or email her at pbeck@greatplains.edu.

The funds to build the new business center came from donors from the Lawton area. A construction firm from Chickasha will be in charge of the project.

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