Women working to Work Wright

Oak Parkers set to launch small business incubator

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It takes a successful entrepreneur to know one. Two of those, combined with a vision to help small business owners grow, and just maybe you've got a business incubator to spark local economic growth.

At least that's what two Oak Parkers are designing to hatch in Oak Park.

Jill Salzman and Sarah Corbin are preparing to launch the concept that creates a professional co-working space and organization that offers educational programming, mentorship and networking opportunities — all under one Oak Park roof.

The space hasn't been secured yet, but Salzman and Corbin are working through stages to launch Work Wright, a business incubator that will allow its members to benefit from the expertise of fellow entrepreneurs and collectively develop their own skills.

Work Wright will be a nonprofit membership organization that functions under the design of shared resources, support systems and a unique work space to grow the model together.

"It's a community-driven space," Salzman said. "It's small business driven. …We're educating you to be profitable to make more money."

But before Work Wright can act as an incubator, it's looking to launch with the help of investors to back the grassroots Oak Park project. Besides members, they are looking for sponsors and a board of directors. Sponsorships consist of three different levels ($35,000; $50,000, and $60,000) and offer a variety of membership perks with each level.

Salzman, the creator of The Founding Moms — recognized by Forbes — which creates monthly meet ups for mom entrepreneurs in cities around the globe, brings her creative spirit to the team and knowledge from running two other small businesses. Corbin, who owned a Great Harvest Bread Company in the south suburbs, before selling it when her second child was on the way, also comes with a community collaboration philosophy and an entrepreneur mindset. Corbin is also a freelance contributor to Wednesday Journal.

This outside-the-box duo believes they have the recipe to "fuel small businesses" through Work Wright, which will be working out of a 10,000 square foot space centrally located in Oak Park. They believe spurring economic growth for the community and its members will empower small business owners to grow within the co-working space and leadership center.

Unlike some incubators, Salzman and Corbin don't believe this concept has a time limit for its members.

"It will keep your eggs warm for a long time," Corbin said.

"It won't be time limited," Salzman added.

Although entrepreneurial projects always come with a risk, these Oak Parkers think their knowledge of the industry and calculated organization plan will contribute to its success. Salzman and Corbin cite their start-up costs at around $300,000.

Success factors listed in an information packet about Work Wright include the ability to: "contribute to the success of our local economy …leverage shared resources to reduce cost and waste …natural clustering and collaboration …partnerships with Oak Park & River Forest Chamber of Commerce and other local businesses and educational organizations. …strict entry criteria. [And]… offering services –on-site or in collaboration with area childhood facilities."

Salzman and Corbin, both moms themselves, understand the benefit of having convenient childcare, and said Work Wright will only be the second incubator project in the country they are aware of that has this concept built in. The hope is to become a self-sustaining membership and sponsorship-driven organization that empowers small business growth.

"The co-working space has a high entrepreneurial component," Corbin said.

The duo believes this, combined with its central location, make Work Wright perfect for the area; they also believe these factors will contribute to the organization's quick growth.

"We're on the edge of an economic development liftoff in Oak Park," Corbin said. "We're poised for the liftoff. We want to help Oak Park's economy develop."

Currently Work Wright is seeking sponsors and accepting applications for entrepreneurs to become members of the space. To learn more, visit work-wright.com.

Reader Comments

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Ross W from Oak Park  

Posted: December 22nd, 2013 3:47 AM

Putting our money where our mouth is. Can't wait to move in!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 1:13 AM

Miss Juliana, Julie Schumacher, and Jenny Jocks Stelzer, make a difference and show your support, there are still sponsorship opportunities for each of you. $35,000; $50,000, and $60,000) and offer a variety of membership perks with each level.

Miss Juliana from Chicago  

Posted: November 13th, 2013 9:34 PM

Onwards and upwards! May you continue to grow and develop in amazing ways.

Julie Schumacher from Oak Park  

Posted: November 13th, 2013 9:11 PM

Brava to both Jill & Sarah. Integrating smart childcare options is great for both working mama and papas. When we think smart about work/life integration, especially for our community's entrepreneurs or independent workers, we make it more possible for people to live lives of balance and to thrive. It take a village. I'm so glad Oak Park is my village.

Jenny Jocks Stelzer from Oak Park  

Posted: November 13th, 2013 9:02 PM

Women doing amazing things in Oak Park - I love it!


Posted: November 13th, 2013 6:44 PM

A Groupon sale would be a great way to raise some money

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: November 13th, 2013 6:26 PM

Cheryl Munoz, Krista Johnsen Mikos and Amanda Miller, there are still sponsorship opportunities for each of you. $35,000; $50,000, and $60,000) and offer a variety of membership perks with each level.

Amanda Miller from Oak Park  

Posted: November 13th, 2013 5:31 PM

Such a great concept! You have really merged the needs of the community with the character that makes Oak Park such a fantastic place to live and grow a business! Way to Go & Best of Luck!

Krista Johnsen Mikos from Oak Park   

Posted: November 13th, 2013 1:31 PM

Great idea! I love it. Wishing Work Wright the best!

Cheryl Munoz from Oak Park  

Posted: November 13th, 2013 10:31 AM

Incredible story! Our community is fortunate to have the thought leadership of this team of entrepreneurs. I hope their vision becomes a reality very soon. Brilliant ideas!

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