SEPTEMBER 18, 2009

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Connors State College and Incubator Up and Running

Photo of Jeff Baird and Bill Kelly, of the Business Incubator Program at CSC.
Jeff Baird, president of Shamrock Development, explains to Bill Kelly, owner of several FM radio stations in Eastern Oklahoma, how an engine that runs on magnetic energy works. Baird’s company is in the Business Incubator program at Connors State College.

Connors State College’s new Business Incubator is up and running with its first client occupying space on the college campus.

Shamrock Research & Development, a company that modifies and develops products for agriculture, industrial, and home use, has expanded its operations to the Eastern Oklahoma market with the opening of an office on the CSC campus. Connors is in partnership with Rural Enterprises of Oklahoma (REI) in the incubator project.

Incubators are designed to help start-up or expanding businesses develop into job-creating entities within a community. REI currently manages incubators -- including offices and warehouses -- in eight Oklahoma communities.

Shamrock occupies a 1,800-square-foot suite in Holloway Hall. Their home office is in Allen, near Ada.

In welcoming the expanding business to Warner and Connors, CSC President Dr. Donnie Nero said, "We are pleased to have them as a tenant. They are the first of several anticipated clients in this venture.

“We are looking forward to growing our incubator program in partnership with REI. We see this as a great opportunity for the college to get involved in bringing new companies to our area."

Jeff Baird is the founder and president of Shamrock. He said the expansion into the Connors facility enables his company to open its services to opportunities in Eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas. He added that Shamrock has been in its Connors home for six months, but said only until recently has he had the time to expand the company.

“Projects elsewhere kept me from spending the time in Warner needed to grow our products,” Baird said. “We’re now in a position to get things rolling. We’re really looking forward to our future here. With the help of Connors and REI there is no reason why we cannot be successful with our expansion.”

Baird had on display several company-developed items, including an engine that runs on magnetic energy. “We have a patent pending on this engine,” he said in telling a small audience how it worked.

Baird also had on display some other equipment his company has developed. He said he has already worked with Connors on two pieces of equipment -- a hay harvester and an automatic brush hog -- both designed for use by people with a handicap. He has applied for patents on each.

“We have shared those two items with the Connors agricultural people and have asked them to use them and write a review, and help us launch them into production,” Baird said.

Baird had nothing but praise for Connors and the college’s interest in his company. “What they’ve provided gives us tremendous potential,” Baird said.

Sue Floyd, Connors’ director of Connors’ Institutional Advancement and Development Foundation, is in charge of the incubator program for the college.

“We’re pleased that Mr. Baird has chosen our services to help grow his business,” Floyd said. “We’re all enthused about the project.”

Business incubators are spaces to help start-up or expanding businesses develop and grow into job-creating entities. The incubator is ideal for a service or technology-based business. Certified by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, incubators provide various tax incentives.

Connors’ incubator includes reduced rent, high speed Internet service, technical assistance, and access to other services of the college. REI markets the facility and serves as business manager for businesses.

Baird credits REI’s involvement with where his company is today.

“My idea was underfunded and I lacked the capital and experience to get my company started,” Baird said. “REI provided me assisted in those areas. They have access to a lot of Web sites with marketing and business oversight.

“Now, Connors is there for the next stage of our development.  We’re able to take advantage of their assets to help us grow.”

 “We see this as an opportunity to encourage entrepreneurship,” Nero said.  “We are grateful for REI’s willingness to share experience and expertise with us. It’s an opportunity to grow and develop businesses right here in Eastern Oklahoma, right here in Warner, and right here on our own campus.”