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Incubator loaned $445K to expand young firms

Citizen Staff and Wire Reports

The Wells Fargo loan will help the nonprofit entity with the 13 companies it houses.

Citizen staff reports

Wells Fargo Bank issued a $445,000, low-interest community reinvestment loan to the Tucson Technology Incubator, the largest single source of funding for TTI since its opening in late 2000.

The loan will allow the year-old incubator to move forward with plans that include providing laboratory space for client companies and providing expanded marketing and communication services, consulting and training, and education, TTI President Carl Russell said.

The incubator is a nonprofit entity closely affiliated with the University of Arizona and dedicated to helping young companies realize their high-growth potential by providing mentoring assistance and access to a variety of services and resources, Russell said.

TTI, with 13 companies in its portfolio of ventures, is at the University of Arizona Science and Technology Park. Russell wants to increase the number of client companies to more than 20 by 2004.

“We’re grateful to Wells Fargo for its strong support of the incubator and of our efforts to grow and diversify the Tucson economy,” Russell said. “This loan will help TTI realize our goals for growth over the next few years.”

About $150,000 from the Wells Fargo loan will be combined with funds from the State of Arizona Commerce & Economic Development Commission, the Business Development Finance Corp. and the Industrial Development Authority of the city of Tucson to create a $375,000 seed fund for early stage ventures.

So far, the incubator has had no funding to invest in the companies it houses.

“Wells Fargo believes that for our company to grow, the economy of the communities we serve must be vibrant,” said Patrick Yalung, regional manager for Wells Fargo in Tucson and greater Arizona. “The incubator is helping new companies in the technology sector, providing jobs and stimulating the region’s economy. We’re pleased to support this effort.”

The rest of the loan will be used to expand TTI programs and provide for additional initiatives.

“The funds from Wells Fargo will make this all happen, allowing us to take the incubator to the next level in our long-range plan to help grow Tucson’s economy,” Russell said. “This is really substantial. This will allow us to do things we haven’t been able to do before.”

Before the loan, TTI had an annual operating budget of $425,000, funded by memberships at $25,000-plus a year, from rentals paid by the 13 tenant companies and this year bolstered by a one-time $86,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Commerce.

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