Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date


Document Number

Working Paper Number 2012-03


Business incubators often figure prominently into regional economic development and innovation strategies. This paper reports on a recent survey aimed at identifying appropriate methods for the evaluation of nonmetropolitan, rural incubator performance. The results draw upon responses from 209 of 719 active U.S. Business incubators identified through our research. Roughly one quarter of the respondents were located outside of areas classified as metropolitan. This paper focuses on critical similarities and differences between metropolitan and non-metropolitan business incubators along the dimensions of economic role, function, and effectiveness. The survey and preliminary synthesis of follow-up interviews suggests that an explicit awareness of the functional differences between business incubators in nonmetropolitan regions might enhance their potential for success.