Innovation Center Enhances Business Success


St. Croix Valley’s Innovation Center Enhances Business Success


The late Bill Shoemaker was a legendary jockey who rode thousands of horses to victory, including several winners in Triple Crown races. Weighing only 2.5 pounds at birth, “Shoe” was not expected to survive his first night, much less the foreseeable future, but quick-thinkers placed him in a shoe box, and then in an oven, as a way to keep him warm. The bootstrapped incubator worked and Shoemaker grew to a height of four feet 11 inches, ideal for a jockey.

Except for the shoe box, many families can relate to Shoemaker’s harrowing story. Birth is indeed a miracle. Big things come in small packages.

How does Shoemaker’s survival apply to business start-ups? Some business analysts suggest close to sixty-six percent of new businesses survive the first two years. Others say about fifty percent (50%) of businesses fail during the first year. Those are considered steep odds in horse racing parlance.

Individuals contemplating the launch of a business in the St. Croix Valley may wish to consider tenancy in the Business Innovation Center, under construction in Sterling Ponds Corporate Park (River Falls, Wisc.). It will open in early 2018 and offers private offices, light manufacturing, and co-working spaces as well as access to business advisors and coaches. The long-term aim is to get new businesses through their early, critical stages so that entrepreneurial development in the St. Croix Valley flourishes.

Although based in River Falls, the center will serve the region. Businesses graduating from the space will end up in a more permanent location, likely found in the respective hometowns, ideally in the St. Croix Valley. Lessons learned from advisors, coaches, and mentors in the center will serve businesses well into the future, furthering improving their success rate.

Whatever it’s referred to as – shoe box, incubator, intensive care isolette, or business innovation center – the ability to survive and then flourish begins at very early levels.

Learn more about the regional center at

Here’s to the long-term success of new business start-ups in the St. Croix Valley.