The building that became known to the world as the first-ever business incubator earns a spot in the Holland Land Office Museum's countdown of The Twenty-Five Things That Made Genesee County Famous.
Museum Director Pat Weissend relates the history of this famous plant:
In 1886, the Johnson Harvester Company of Brockport, NY moved to Batavia following a fire in the Brockport plant. Company officials chose Batavia because the railroad lines that came through the village would make the shipment of product easier. Also, local citizens purchased 14 acres of land along Cemetery Street and donated it to the company to build its plant. Cemetery Street was renamed Harvester Avenue.
In 1910, a controlling interest in the Johnson Harvester Company was acquired by the Massey-Harris Company of Canada. One of the more well known products of the Massey-Harris Company was the Clipper Combine.
In 1953, the company merged with Harry Ferguson Limited of England and became Massey-Harris-Ferguson. Five years later, the name was shortened to Massey-Ferguson.
After the plant closed a few years after the merger with Ferguson Limited, the city began the search for a new tenant. When no one could be persuaded to take over the enormous space—industrial plants all over the nation were beginning to close their doors at the time—Charles Mancuso was charged with the task of filling the space. So was born the business incubator.
Mancuso came up with the idea to rent portions of the building to small manufacturing firms until they were large enough to strike out on their own. This type of arrangement allowed startup businesses to save money and resources until they grew enough to go out on their own.
One of the first tenants to the Industrial Center was a chicken company. Mr. Mancuso was traveling around the US looking for other potential tenants and spreading the word about Genesee County. He used the chicken company as an example, and started calling it an incubator. Mancuso invented the world's first business incubator. Today, there are an estimated 5,000 business incubators in the world. In Anshan City, China there is a statue of Joseph Mancuso, the father of the business incubator.
Visit the museum's Web site for more about the business incubator and to keep up with the countdown of The Twenty-Five Things That Made Genesee County Famous.