By: Steven Falitico
“One of our neighbors is a metal fabricator and the other is a metal band.”
Dave Vining – Whiteford Dental™
The world’s first business incubator, The Harvester Center in Batavia, has been home to the entrepreneurs of the region for over sixty years. With 72 tenants and room for 72 more, it is a place of opportunity and potential in Genesee County, New York.
In 1956, The Massey-Ferguson Industrial Complex in Batavia closed.
The agricultural machinery manufacturer was the largest business and employer in the area.
When it left major commerce was taken from the area and unemployment landed somewhere near 20%.
What it left was a now vacant 850,000 sq ft facility right in the heart of Batavia.
Trying to find one single occupant to fill this monstrous space was not feasible.
Joe Mancuso of Batavia, and other partners, decided to use creativity and business savvy to provide a small solution to a big problem.
They decided to divide the campus up into spaces and rent the spaces to small businesses.
The idea behind it being by sharing facilities and reducing costs, they could provide the small businesses of the region with “a place to start”.
When the businesses became more established, they would be provided business advice and assistance in raising capital, ultimately allowing them to move out and find their own space.
It was a revolutionary idea and led to the creation of the world’s FIRST business incubator in Batavia in 1959.
Business Incubator: “Business incubators are specially designed programs to help young startups innovate and grow. They usually provide workspaces, mentorship, education and access to investors for startups or sole entrepreneurs. These resources allow companies and ideas to take shape while operating at a lower cost during the early stages of business incubation.”
This formula created in Batavia has now been mimicked across the country and even across the world. According to International Business Innovation Association, there are over 1,400 business incubators currently in the U.S.
Fun fact, there is a statue of Joe Mancuso in front of a business incubator in China- naming him “the father of the business incubator movement.”
When you walk into the Harvester today, you will see a bustling center of industry and entrepreneurship. The incubator format still very much resembling what it did in 1959.
The number of different businesses and people you find is incredible.
In the same hallway- an architecture firm, a special effects studio and a dental lab. We’re talking blueprints, implants and Baby Yoda all within 100 strides.
The flexibility and openness of the facility and its management allows for creative ideas to be put into action. Start small and keep the risk low- creating an environment that provides the perfect breeding ground for entrepreneurial ideas and new business owner capabilities.
If you need space this is your place!
Just ask the newest venture, “The House of Bounce” an indoor children’s play space coming soon to the Harvester building!
Applied Business Systems takes up some significant space in The Harvester.
ABS for short has been a full service print shop for over 30 years, and specializes in transactional printing, marketing and direct mail. They have a large staff, lots of storage and many different pieces of equipment that allow them to make use of the space in the complex.
Game of Throws has officially chopped open their doors in the past year as Batavia’s first and only axe throwing facility!
Eric and Sarah Jones have recently renovated the space to offer their visitors axe throwing, soccer pool and corn hole for entertainment needs. Recently, they have added a bar and a golf simulator to the facility.
Hodgins Printing and John’s Studio have been long term tenants and offer digital and screen printed designs, and custom imprinted and embroidered apparel.
Started by John Hodgins in the 50s, Hodgins Printing has now been owned and operated by his son, Mike, for over twenty years. The family business has grown and thrived with their home base in The Harvester Center.
One World Projects, located right in the front of the Harvester, is a U.S based, fair trade company that is dedicated to social responsibility, economic empowerment, and environmental conservation.
Their retail inventory include pieces from more than 11,000 artisans from across the world! Including jewelry, pottery, clothing, and other artisan goods.
Pinnacle Manufacturing was formed by a Henry and Lois Kisel in 1972, and is still family owned and operated. In the four decades since the company has developed a reputation as an innovative zinc and aluminum die caster.
Their 40,000 square foot manufacturing facility is located inside the Harvester Center.
Pub Coffee Hub opened by Rob Credi in 2020 has become a local favorite for coffee and its accoutrements. Great sandwiches, a low-key atmosphere and some good brew can all be found at 56 Harvester Ave.
Rob got his start back in the day in Batavia, but in recent years transitioned to a coffee truck which led to the current brick and mortar location.
smartDESIGN Architecture is a full-service architecture and design firm based out of Batavia, NY.
Ed Smart and his team have built up a reputation for themselves in this community and have worked on projects all across North America. They actually designed the current Chamber building on Park Rd in Batavia and also call The Harvester home.
Thermory USA is a company that produces and sells thermally modified wood decking, cladding, and porch flooring.
It was drawn to the location for its headquarters because Principle, Kevin Demars, is a Batavia native. They have created a cool unique space that looks like it belongs in NYC, and not Batavia.
Vintage is a store specializing in vintage items. Their inventory is constantly changing, and you never know what you might find. Items range from antique farm tools, vintage decor, vintage jewelry and toys!
Whiteford Dental Lab is a service based business specializing in the creation of dental implants and dentures for dentists across NY.
Noah Whiteford and his business partner, Dave Vining, currently occupy multiple spaces at The Harvester and have continued to expand the past few years. They are looking to move out and find a forever home close-by in Batavia.
Special effects artist Rashaad Santiago has his studio space in The Harvester. He won the reality TV series “Face-Off” in 2014 with his skills in monster-making and often does work for movie sets and tv series.
You can find him seven days a week at his space in The Harvester, dreaming up new props and pop culture monsters to satisfy any niche.