TILTON — The newly formed Tilton Main Street Committee has launched a business incubation program for downtown Tilton as one of its first initiatives.

The Tilton Main Street Committee was established last spring in an effort to improve the downtown community. By taking advantage of empty storefronts, the incubator program — alternatively known as a business accelerator — will offer space for early-stage startups. The goal is to create and grow businesses by providing low-cost retail space as well as financial services tailored to the needs of small businesses.

As part of the program, startups will receive several months' free rent and free business advising by the Small Business Development Center in Laconia. The SBDC offers business mentoring, small business loans, and educational opportunities.

“Business incubators or accelerators help create a stronger local economy,” said Tilton Main Street Committee Chair Juliet Harvey-Bolia. “There are several vacant storefronts downtown, so it’s a great time to build on the opportunity.”

Scott Stephens is an adviser who works with New Hampshire Small Business Development Center clients in Grafton and Belknap counties, offering insights from his extensive background in management, marketing, sales, design, manufacturing, and hospitality.

With Belknap County economic development in mind, Stephens offered a workshop for business startups on Feb. 28 at the Franklin Savings Bank Community Learning Center.

When asked about important considerations for main street businesses, Scott stressed, “One of the most important tasks in setting up a business is to know your market.”

Business plans are often written solely from the viewpoint of the business owner, and while they are thoroughly detailed about the product or service for sale, they often are weak in terms of vital market information. Business development organizations such as the SBDC provide startups with local market information.

For more information about starting a business in the Tilton area, call 978-905-8055 or email maintilton@gmail.com.

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