Mack: CareerTech supports entrepreneurship opportunities


Marcie Mack

Oklahoma CareerTech’s 15 Certified Business Incubators located in 10 Technology Hub Districts are strategically located across the state to provide a way for individuals to nurture ideas, while providing economic vitality to their communities.

Each incubator has undergone a thorough review and certification by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce to ensure it meets certain standards of excellence.

According to the National Business Incubation Association, 80% of businesses that start in an incubator are successful. By providing affordable rental space and a wide range of on-site management, administrative and financial services, our incubators help entrepreneurs and small business owners overcome the challenges they face in the marketplace.

In 2020, the Oklahoma Department of Commerce conducted an investigation and found that 109 small businesses in Oklahoma’s 31 certified small business incubators provide 1,165 jobs.

Over 1,000 small businesses are in a Small Business Incubator throughout the life of the Oklahoma Certified Small Business Incubator Program. Over 500 of them have graduated from the program or have moved to a larger institution. The 259 graduate companies that remained in Oklahoma now employ 1,373 people.

Entrepreneurship has an impact in Oklahoma, and Oklahoma CareerTech is a critical resource to its success.

An example of the impact of Oklahoma CareerTech can be found at the Francis Tuttle Technology Center.

The tech center is positioning itself as the hub for entrepreneurship education in Oklahoma City. Its newly opened Danforth campus in Edmond is designed to enhance the key aspects of successful entrepreneurship in all of its professional training programs: creativity, problem solving, collaboration, innovation and vision for the future.

Inside the Danforth campus are dedicated spaces to guide students through the stages of innovation: two Design Thinking studios where brainstorming can lead to creative ideas; a product realization lab where 3D printers, laser cutters and coding stations can bring these ideas to life; and the Francis Tuttle, where students, staff and members of the business community can collaborate and share the innovative concepts they envision as the new business ventures of tomorrow.

Additionally, AXIS, a business incubator powered by Francis Tuttle, provides professional support for newly established small businesses and resources for local startups.

“We have deliberately incorporated design elements and dedicated spaces to create an educational facility to fuel entrepreneurship in Oklahoma and elevate a new economy,” said Michelle Keylon, Superintendent and CEO of Francis Tuttle .

Autry Technology Center’s Strate Business Development Center offers a success story that illustrates how incubators fuel entrepreneurship and positively affect rural communities.

Over the Fence Farms in Waukomis has grown more than its owner could have predicted over the past seven years. Their products include a variety of pickles, sauces, mixes, salsas and jellies. Their goal in 2013 was to be present in 20 retail stores by the end of the year; they finished the year in 35 stores.

“I couldn’t have started this business without the incubator,” said Linda Beguin, owner of Over the Fence Farms.

The company continues to expand its products and retail locations. It has several retail outlets in Oklahoma and reaches parts of Kansas.

This is just one example of the impact Oklahoma CareerTech has on growing the Oklahoma economy by living our mission to prepare Oklahoma people for success in the workplace, in the education and in life.

Marcie Mack is the State Director of the Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technological Education.

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