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In the "Mews"

Incubators spawn more than technology babies

Excerpts taken from the June 9, 2006 print edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
By Christopher Boyce

Cindy Berndt, founder and co-owner Critter Sitters with her sister,
Tammy Tvetene, walks Australian shepherds Miko and Chloe in
Richmond Heights. The company has its headquarters in the small-
business incubator in south St. Louis County.
Kevin Manning | Post Dispatch

Though most entrepreneurs are familiar with the sheltered environment that business incubators provide for startups, the name “incubator” became entwined with petri dish research and dot-coms in the late 1990s.

Mention the term business incubator and many people locally think tech first: the Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise, the Center for Emerging Technologies and the Technology Entrepreneur Center.

But there’s a lot more to incubators than tech, said Jan De Young, executive director of the St. Louis Enterprise Centers, the set of incubators run by the St. Louis County Economic Council.

…Companies applying for space at the enterprise center must be for-profit, have a business plan for future growth and have the potential to have an impact on economic development, as evaluated by the St. Louis Enterprise Centers

Tammy Tvetene of Critter Sitters decided with her business partners to open a headquarters at the enterprise center on Lemay Ferry Road after operating from her home for eight years.

As the business began growing, Tvetene grew uncomfortable with interviewing employees at her home and, likewise, worried about her company’s image.

“I think it’s uncomfortable for people when they’re interviewing for a job,” Tvetene said. “It made it seem like it’s not a real or legitimate business.”

The small office space also provides a more secure place for employees to pick up and drop off customer information and house keys for pet-sitting appointments and dog walks.


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