This photo shows the pervious location of the Old Town Newhall Library, which the city of Santa Clarita plans to turn into a specialized business incubator. Dan Watson/The Signal
Putting an old building to new use, the city of Santa Clarita is turning the former Newhall Library into a business incubator specifically for creative and technology industries.
“It’s going to be partnership between the city and College of the Canyons,” said Jason Crawford, marketing and economic development manager. “Our goal is to bring in six or seven business startups.”
But, not any startups will do. The city wants to select business startups that align with the core industries already in the area.
“We’re really hoping to bring in businesses that are in the creative industries — film, TV, video game making, web development, digital and more,” Crawford said. “Those are industries that can start off with one or two people who have a concept and, if successful, can grow to 100 or more employees.”
High-tech startups are a key driver of job creation, reported the Kauffman Foundation in August. A study showed that they grow rapidly in the early years.
Kaufman’s research also showed that new and young innovative firms are responsible for net job growth, not small businesses in general.
It is clear that encouraging the creation of new tech businesses can boost our economy, said Ian Hathaway, an economic advisor and author of the Kauffman report.
“These are higher paying jobs, and in turn, they help create a need for other service jobs,” Crawford said.
Plus, the location in Newhall fits the design of what kinds of businesses the city hopes to attract, he said.
“There are restaurants and theaters downtown that just seem to align with a creative crowd,” he said. “The folks working there can go out to lunch and stop by the local businesses after work, creating more foot-traffic.”
The city looked at other incubators in Ventura and Pasadena when designing the local model. COC and the Small Business Development Center will provide some workshops and training for the business owners.
While the startups will pay some kind of fee for workspace at the incubator, Crawford said the hope is the companies will have gotten their footing enough to move into traditional, paid office space within a year or two.
The building will be outfitted with very high-speed broadband access to support the industries the city wants to attract, Crawford said.
“We’ll announce a process to look for the right startups early next year,” he said.
In the meantime, the aging library needs a number of space improvements, including electrical, mechanical, and plumbing upgrades, to make it fit for occupancy.
The city awarded a contract to R L Passarelli Enterprises to restore the city-owned building. Four local companies bid on the project, but the Whittier firm submitted the lowest bid of $203,150 to do the work.