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TECenter Gets $1 Million Grant to Expand, Create Valley Jobs

By: Sherry Squires   Published 12:08 pm / September 7, 2010

Boise State’s Technology and Entrepreneurial Center (TECenter) has been awarded a $1 million grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Agency to continue creating jobs in the Treasure Valley.

The funds will be used to complete an additional 10,000 square feet — about a third of the TECenter’s total space — that was left unfinished when the center opened eight years ago. The resulting 30 percent increase in client space is expected to help center clients create 75 new jobs per year. The TECenter, located in Nampa, is home to 14 resident companies and also offers business resources to 10 non-resident clients.

“The grant drives U.S. jobs by providing resources to help entrepreneurs establish their ventures and grow them here in our region,” said TECenter director John Glerum. “We’re moving from new venture creation to significant business growth acceleration with the companies who will utilize this new space.”

The grant is a result of Congress’ 2009 amendment to the Community Trade Adjustment Act of 1974, essentially distributing funds to eligible applicants in economically impacted areas that have experienced job losses from international trade.

The TECenter is dedicated to the development, growth and success of technology-enabled companies and entrepreneurs throughout the Treasure Valley and offers business development services both to resident and non-resident clients. In addition, the TECenter will be making student-owned businesses an emphasis.

The center is at capacity and will utilize the new space for up to 10 larger clients who are mature in their growth curve. They include new ventures like Ready Financial Group, a TECenter client since 2006 and the first client to obtain multi-million-dollar venture capital funding. The company offers prepaid Visa debit cards and other financial products to traditionally underserved groups of U.S. consumers.

“While we’ve already been growing so far in 2010, the renovation will allow us to expand our customer support, IT, marketing and other functions here in Nampa,” said founder and CEO Will Tumulty.

Another growth candidate is Easy Office, a thriving Treasure Valley company providing bookkeeping and accounting services to the non-profit sector. It started with just three individuals in July 2008 in the Boise Water Cooler facility, has grown to employ more than 20 individuals in the Boise office, and now will utilize the new TECenter accelerator space.

“Maintaining growth can be difficult in the current economy,” said CEO and founder Jeff Russell. “Having access to facilities that can allow new companies to grow and expand into additional space while providing competitive rates helps maintain growth and allows new businesses to focus on expansion and diversification of their services and products instead of focusing on new leases.”

Beckmer Products Inc. also will take advantage of the new TECenter space.

“It comes at a perfect time for us as our company is getting ready to expand our production with another product for hands-free computer access,” said president and founder Becky Logue. “This expansion will give us more room for our storage and production and our sales staff more privacy in making sales calls.”

The TECenter currently serves more than 20 companies. Since opening in the Treasure Valley, TECenter consultants have had discussions with more than 1,000 emerging ventures and provided formal assessments and work plans to more than 200 of them. The TECenter also has five pre-incubation clients and more than 20 graduate companies. Current clients represent 171 self-employed people and approximately $18 million in annual revenues. Current client funding from various sources exceeds $16 million.

As part of the College of Business and Economics at Boise State, the TECenter utilizes undergraduate and MBA student teams to help clients overcome hurdles and formalize strategies for growth.

“We’re trying to find businesses with the right ingredients and energies to export significant goods and services and import dollars back to Idaho,” Glerum said, adding that about 80 percent of the TECenter-based clients are doing business with customers outside of Idaho and around the world.

Learn more about the TECenter.