People You Should Know – Susan Henson, Mason Enterprise Center

By October 4, 2012November 4th, 2016Blog, Small Biz

By: Susan VanEpps

This month we sat down with Susan Henson, regional manager for the local branch of the Mason Enterprise Center in downtown Leesburg. Henson explained the benefits of the MEC for entrepreneurs, and gave thoughts on the value of breaking away from your home office.

The Mason Enterprise Center is a business incubator. To participate, a small business must apply to receive the MEC’s services. If accepted as a client, businesses have the option of having their offices physically located at the MEC’s facility in Leesburg, or to continue operating from their home office or business location and receive MEC services remotely.

“We realize many professionals are content to work from home, or hang their shingle from a nearby office, and that’s what makes sense for them,” Henson explains. “But for businesses at that next phase of growth, that are already generating revenue and have a growth-oriented business model, the Mason Enterprise Center can offer unique perks.”

The MEC is operated under the leadership of George Mason University. The Leesburg branch is one of six MEC incubator facilities in the region. It offers clients office amenities such as a professional mail address, high speed Internet access, and multiple conference rooms for client meetings or training sessions. In addition, clients are supported with one-on-one counseling, training, networking, mentoring and peer-to-peer facilitation.

 “Our businesses really benefit from the environment,” Henson says. “They learn so much from being in an environment with other early-stage entrepreneurs. It’s a real advantage when you as a business have a question and we can say ‘Go talk to Joe on the second floor, he just had a similar issue.’”

Business incubators have proven to be key to the success and viability of new businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, only 44 percent of firms are still in business after four years of operation; the National Business Incubation Association reports that 87 percent of businesses that participated in incubation programs were still in operation after 10 years.

The Loudoun MEC’s resident clients include a cross section of businesses, including government professional service and tech companies. Henson also assists ‘virtual clients’ who work elsewhere but can have a business address and access all of the center’s support services, as well as use MEC conference rooms throughout the region.

Client services range from $100 a month for virtual clients, to $1,400 for the largest office with full resident services. Non-client rates are also available for hourly usage of office and conference space.

The MEC also helped launch Idea Fusion™, a monthly networking event for clients, local start-ups and entrepreneurs. The next event is Tuesday, October 9 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. at Ironwood Tavern in Leesburg. The event and appetizers are free.  Entrepreneurs also encouraged to check out the Idea Fusion™ Meetup Group online.