ATHENS, Ohio – The National Business Incubation Association awarded Joel Wiggins with the 2013 President’s Award during NBIA’s International Conference on Business Incubation in Boston. This award recognizes a longtime NBIA member for lifetime achievement in support of business incubation.
A 16-year veteran incubation professional, frequent presenter at NBIA conferences, and former NBIA board member and chairman, Wiggins is leaving his post as president & CEO of the Enterprise Center of Johnson County in Lenexa, Kan., to become president of Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minn., in June. Wiggins studied history at Crown, a Christian school where all students have a dual major: their chosen discipline and Christian Studies.
While undertaking doctoral studies in communications at The University of Texas at Austin, a friend encouraged Wiggins to apply for a research internship at the Austin Technology Incubator. Wiggins became a full-time employee of the incubator in 1998 and became executive director in 2000.
A little more than five years later, he took the job of ECJC president and CEO in Lenexa, near Kansas City. While there, Wiggins was instrumental in creating the now-thriving Mid America Angels Investments, of which he is currently executive director – a post he will also leave this summer.
The business incubation industry has developed and changed in expected and unexpected ways during his time in the field, Wiggins says. “There’s now a lot more diversity in terms of incubation programs. When I came in, incubation was still pretty young. Incubators were what they were, and they followed a pretty standard model. Today, there is a vast range of programs, and the things they have in common are fewer.”
Business incubation programs like ECJC catalyze the process of starting and growing companies by providing entrepreneurs with the expertise, networks and tools they need to make their ventures successful. NBIA estimates that in 2011 alone, North American incubators assisted about 49,000 start-up companies that provided full-time employment for nearly 200,000 workers and generated annual revenue of almost $15 billion. Approximately 7,000 business incubators operate worldwide.
The National Business Incubation Association is the world’s leading organization advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship. Each year, the NBIA Incubation Awards honor the business incubation programs, graduates and client companies that exemplify the best of the industry.