Michael Brown, founder and CEO of SkillsNET Ltd. of Waxahachie, is creating an environment in which to foster new businesses.

SKillsNET Innovation Center Network’s goal, Brown said, is to place potential Ellis County entrepreneurs on the fast track toward growing self-sufficient, productive and profitable businesses.

“Our society has progressed from farming to industrial to information technology to a knowledge-based economy,” Brown said. “To a knowledge-based society, the world is flat. I can hire IT (information technology) personnel in India or retain the services of a corporation in Guam and everything is remote.”

Brown said the new program is modeled after a similar program in Austin, which resulted in hundreds of IT corporations coming to that area.

“There are three entry points for prospective entrepreneurs to participate in the business incubator program,” Brown said. “The first is someone with no business as of yet, but who has a desire to start one up. Second is one who already has a business but wants to nurture it and see it grow and the third point of entry is for one who has had a business for awhile, but needs a second tier of growth, including finance, assessment of the valuation or worth of the company and to gain access to expertise in understanding the market.

“All three are required to fill out an application and a committee will review those applications to determine the worthiness of the proposed business,” he said.

Two types of entrepreneurs will be serviced: residential (those who want to rent an office space in the SkillsNET facility) and virtual (those who want to work off campus either at home or another office space).

Entrepreneurs in the incubation program will have access to the SkillsNET facilities to host seminars and meet with clients and the services and space provided for businesses are designed for flexibility and options.

Services include personal parking area, business library, conference rooms, a main reception area, modern VTC and wireless meeting capability, copiers, facsimile, 24-hour security, network and IT services and business consultants.

In 1994, Gov. Ann Richards appointed Brown as a rural development consultant with a task of exploring ways to develop technology in rural areas.

Brown said he envisions a day business people can have the same opportunity to work in an IT position in Ellis County as in Dallas for the same money.

“My goal is to have 15 companies in the SkillsNET Innovation Center by December,” Brown said, noting he would like to graduate companies from the program within 18 to 24 months.

The program will offer leadership assessment in which Brown identifies strengths and weaknesses, helps entrepreneurs learn how to leverage personality traits in business situations, provides coaching, assists in a personal development plan and hosts leadership retreats with networking and leadership opportunities. Services also will include business consulting, market research and links to numerous resources for product and service development.

“While entrepreneurs are in the incubator program, I will mentor them, provide an inventory of documents and agreements, venture capitalists and legal support through a corps of attorneys,”

Brown said. “I want to bring technical job opportunities to Ellis County.”

E-mail Paul at: paul.gauntt@waxahachiedailylight.com