In the Randolph Report of 1999 and the Haliburton County Strategic Plan, Arts and Culture was identified as a sector that had opportunities for expansion and growth in Haliburton County. The building of the new campus for Fleming College and the Haliburton School of The Arts, the infrastructure investment by the local municipalities in arts and culture facilities, the growing number of experienced professional artists setting up business in Haliburton County, the growth of arts-based tourist attractions and the development of the Arts Council -Haliburton Highlands are all examples of the growth and growth potential of the arts and culture sector in the County.
In the fall of 2005, the Economic Diversity Committee of Haliburton County hosted a forum, facilitated by Artscape to examine opportunities for the development of a creative business incubator in Haliburton County. The forum generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm and identified a range of opportunities.
The Council of the Municipality of Dysart identified this type of development as one with strong potential to attract new businesses and become a key component of a creative cluster that will attract tourists and public attention to Haliburton. In the fall of 2006 the Municipality of Dysart with support from the Haliburton County Development Corporation commissioned a feasibility study to examine other models, identify the appropriate mix of potential occupants, the optimum amount of space, the services required, the appropriate management and ownership structure, the level of income required to cover operating costs, and the costs of building.
The Feasibility Study found considerable justification for a Creative Business lncubator in Haliburton and the creation of a “first phase” project. The initial project would be useful to get broader community support and to develop the systems and organizational structures for the expanded initiative.
More recently, evidence in the Martin Prosperity Report (Province of Ontario) demonstrates that public and private investment in creative enterprises yields favorable economic and social returns, producing higher paying jobs and supporting communities.
The Statistics Canada did a study on the Characteristics of business incubators found that in Canada, without the aid of an incubator environment, two-in three new businesses do not survive to their fifth year. Previous studies (Bordt, 2006) have confirmed that to establish and grow a business; there is a need for business advice, formal organization, formal business planning and access to business development funding.
The primary objectives of an incubator are to build or accelerate the growth of a company, along with hope of creating jobs in the local economy. This is accomplished through mentoring with business basics, marketing assistance, accounting or financial management, and offering linkages to other fundamental services. Incubators provide this advice and other support in an effort to assist new and growing businesses to become established and profitable.
As noted earlier, there are now over 150 operating business incubators in Canada. An indicator of the positive impact of incubation firms is evident considering that 2,958 client companies had generated revenues at the end of the year.