Small start-up businesses needing help to get launched will soon be able to turn to Plainfield's new , which won approval Monday to use unoccupied space in village hall.
A 4,000-square-foot section of the building, previously used by the village building department, will be divided into cubicles that can be rented for $100 a month by local residents who are creating a new business but do not yet have the means to lease office space.
Participants will have to meet specific criteria and will sign a license agreement that allows them to use the space for a maximum of 18 months. The contract can be terminated without cause at the village's discretion, village Planner Michael Garrigan said.
"The village has had an explosion of home occupancy and small start-up businesses," Garrigan told the board. "We want to provide a business service to the residents. ... The guidelines and perameters will make sure (the businesses) are appropriate and make sure it's temporary."
The fee charged will cover the cost of overhead, including utilities, phones and Internet connections. Businesses will have access to a meeting room and copy machine, and will work with Joliet Junior College for assistance in creating business plans.
Board members embraced the concept, saying they were willing to see if a so-called business "incubator" could generate more locally based companies that would, in turn, produce new tax money and jobs for Plainfield.
"I view this as an experiment," Trustee Bill Lamb said. "If it creates any problems, we can always terminate it. ... Let's see what happens."
Said Trustee Margie Bonuchi: "In these economic times, some people have to reinvent themselves" and this could help.
The only board member to question the center was Garrett Peck, who asked that a cost-benefit analysis be done before the village committed itself to the idea. While he didn't vote against the proposal, he did abstain.
"Sometimes we want to do something good without looking at everyone who will be affected by it," Peck said. "I support the idea and the concept of helping people start businesses ... but we want to make sure it's a win-win."
He also questioned whether the village would have to pay property tax on the portion of the village hall used for commercial business purposes.
Garrigan said he's been advised that Plainfield Township assessor needs to determine how that would work since the space is so small and the number of occupants may be changing frequently. Whatever the amount the village might have to pay, the assessor told him it would be "negligible," he said.
It's possible the first business owners could be moved in by the end of the month, Garrigan said.