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Unlimited Future leaving economic footprint

Jan. 26, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Since opening its doors in 1995, Unlimited Future Inc. in Huntington has hosted or trained more than 140 local businesses, leading to more than 300 jobs in the Tri-State Area.

Though the business incubator only works with small businesses, looking at the employment numbers one could argue it's been as successful an economic development engine as an organization that recruits more robust operations.

The incubator, which operates off of grant funding and funds from several local banks, has trained business owners from such local successes as Mug and Pia, Latta's and Ebeneezer Medical Outreach, to name but a few.

The operation, which is housed on 8th Avenue just off of Hal Greer Boulevard, also offers businesses office space with access to business resources at a fraction of the cost of starting up cold in an office rented or purchased elsewhere.

Ursulette Wells, program director at Unlimited Future, said it's her job to train entrepreneurs how to actually run a business.

"They come in with an idea," she said. "They don't know how to make it a reality. They understand a skill and trade but don't necessarily know how to operate successfully on a consistent basis.

"I break it down for them and start with a budget, by the time an accountant comes in to work with them they understand the basics of cash flow projections and it's not as scary."

Executive director Gail Patton said accounting knowledge is vital to building a successful small business.

"I'd say 99 percent of the people who are looking to start a new business do not understand the accounting side of things," she said. "We do a bad job of teaching accounting in our schools."

Unlimited Future is only funded to aid small businesses with employee numbers in the single digits.

"The next Microsoft is not going to come out of here," Patton said with a wry grin. "But we do provide a startup for people with very little risk."

Unlimited Future currently has six offices open. It is also housing startups such as Recovery Gardens, a counseling service; Keepers of the Light House, a salon and wig business; and Eve Web Hosting and Design, among others.

For more information on classes or leasing office space, call 304-697-3004, or visit www.unlimitedfuture.org.

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