Helping Businesses Succeed: The Hannah Grimes Center Business Incubator Program

The Hannah Grimes Center gives me belief in myself as a business owner.

With those few words, Adriana Elliot, a New Hampshire certified mediator, captures one of the essential ways in which the business incubator at the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship in Keene, New Hampshire, helps small businesses succeed.  “With my nonprofit background, I thought for a long time that ‘business’ was a bad word. Hannah Grimes helped me shift my perspective. In the two years I’ve been here, my gross revenue increased 50 percent.”

When Elliot became sole-proprietor of Cheshire Mediation LLC, she knew she had the skills, credentials and commitment required of a mediator. What she didn’t know was what it meant to be in business. She remembers asking herself, “What do I worry about first: my business name, marketing, buying equipment, a sign, a brochure? The business incubator removed my worries about all the logistics stuff, having a waiting area, a conference room, furnishings. It gave me the opportunity to take workshops and meet other professionals with a variety of business models. When I was working out of my home, I couldn’t have imagined opening an office and now I know how to do it.”

Mary Ann Kristiansen, the executive director of the Hannah Grimes Center, stresses that the business incubator is a collaborative growth program for businesses and nonprofits of any size. “When we bring a business into the Hannah Grimes Business Incubator Program, we believe it has the capacity to grow and will make full use of the operational and business development tools we offer. We’re looking for motivated business owners who are open to learning and are seeking structure, a supportive peer group and a dynamic environment. Hannah Grimes is a community.”

Like all businesses and nonprofits who join the business incubator program, Elliot started with a partially furnished office that includes access to high-speed internet, a networked multi-function copy and fax machine, kitchen and shower facilities, conference room with multi-media equipment and free seminars by local experts, ranging from accounting to sales and technology. Elliot herself has hosted monthly mediation events about building connections and fostering communications, even in the most difficult situations. She says, “In these challenging times, we’re all figuring out how to relate to each other at home and business. We want to know the tools available to us to have more successful relationships with each other.”

A member of the National Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), New Hampshire Conflict Resolution Association (NHCRA), and the New Hampshire Guardian ad Litem’s Association (NH GALA), Adriana is a Guardian ad Litem, a Justice of the Peace, and a New Hampshire Certified Family Mediator.  In October of 2011, Adriana incorporated Cheshire Mediation LLC as a privately run entity, after it operated for 15 years as a non-profit program of Monadnock Family Services.

“Cheshire Mediation is a perfect example of how nonprofits and for-profits are collaborating more and more,” says Kristiansen. “Monadnock Family Services trusted Adriana enough to transfer the program to her as a for-profit business. They believed in Adriana’s integrity and ability to forward their mission and her commitment bring mediation to the community. So does Hannah Grimes.”

“Hannah Grimes has given me support in visualizing the future for Cheshire Mediation,” says Elliot. “Having an office here has given me confidence that my skills are applicable to this area and are needed. As business owners, we all want to be of service and make our maximum contribution. We want the satisfaction of knowing that we’re doing good work.”

The Hannah Grimes Business Incubator Program, located at 25 Roxbury Street in Keene, New Hampshire, offers businesses and nonprofits a place to grow, including facilities, resource library, educational services, networking opportunities and peer-learning. When business owners lease a private or shared office space (90 to 186 square feet), they gain access to all facilities and programs. For more information, call 603-352-5063 or visit our Business Incubator Program Webpage.