Businesses and government leaders raised their glasses to toast five years of success for the Mason Enterprise Center on Thursday night.
The downtown Leesburg incubator opened in 2011 with a capacity to hold 28 businesses in house, as well as with virtual clients. Along with the MEC staff, the center also houses the town’s Economic Development Department and the Loudoun Small Business Development Center.
Interest in the incubator has been strong just about since its birth. MEC Leesburg Regional Manager Susan Henson notes that her staff has done its best to squeeze in as many businesses that want to be a part of the incubator as possible, with currently 45 located in the center, in addition to 20 virtual clients. There’s even a waiting list with eager businesses ready to take the spot of businesses that graduate.
Since the center’s opening, 79 businesses have graduated from the program, with an average stay in the incubator of about two years. Businesses that have located in the incubator have ranged from biotech to real estate to government contracting to IT to nonprofits, and everything in between. Going forward, Henson said she hopes to be able to grow the center staff, currently just at three, and said there is the possibility of exploring a new location, or additional locations, to continue to grow small businesses throughout Loudoun County. She mentioned the area of the future Silver Line extension in Ashburn as a possible future landing spot.
Thursday night’s ceremony featured awards given out for distinguished businesses that have come through the incubator. The Rookie of the Year honor went to Ade Odutola of Solvitur Systems, LLC. The Alumni Honoree was Custom Software Systems, Inc. Awards recognizing Federal Contractor went to B3 Group, Inc., and the Community Supporter Award went to American Capital Planning. Finally, the Rapid Growth Award went to Sparkfire Branding, Inc.
The results for the Superpitch Video Pitch Contest by the SBDC were also announced. It Takes a Village, Baby took top honors in the Service Category, Houndworks won in the Product division, and the People’s Choice Award went to Loudoun Coupons for Hope. Each winner will receive $500, along with a six-month virtual membership to the incubator, among other prizes.