Some people may have had a treehouse during their childhood. A place that they could hang out with their buddies.
The same concept was unveiled Wednesday afternoon only this isn't a treehouse for children, but rather for new business owners.

Some people may have had a treehouse during their childhood. A place that they could hang out with their buddies.
The same concept was unveiled Wednesday afternoon only this isn't a treehouse for children, but rather for new business owners.
The Treehouse Business Incubator is a central location where new business owners can collaborate with each other as they begin their new venture. The goal is the promote new business in Nebraska City.
"You know treehouses are kind of like clubhouses. It's a special niche of people that have great camaraderie and that's what a business incubator is - a niche of people that have great camaraderie," Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Stephanie Shrader said. "Having it in a safe environment where they can ask those kind of questions to people that have been through it I think that's what makes it a win-win."
Southeast Community College's Entrepreneurship Center in Lincoln collaborated with NCAEDC to make the business incubator a reality in Nebraska City. SCC has had a business incubator since 2007 and has 12 office spaces onsite for new business owners.
SCC Entrepreneurship Center Director Steve Bors said coaches, mentors and training will be offered to incubator participants to reduce that chance for a new business to fail.
"We're really looking for people wanting to start a new business. That's the biggest criteria," Bors said. "The goal is to create new businesses and new jobs where they didn't exist before."
Bors said there are a wide range of businesses existing in the Lincoln incubator. He said there's an insurance agency, mental health practitioner, travel agency, an Internet radio station that features smooth jazz, a woman who offers classes for couples expecting children, a business that matches senior citizens with retirement communities or assisted living facilities, a graphic designer and more. He's hoping the variety of businesses will be produced in Nebraska City's incubator.
Bors added that a woman started selling digital clip art from her office in the incubator and now has 50,000 followers on her Web site. Bors said the same woman also hosts meetings with the other incubator business owners in a conference room and shares free online digital tools that they could possibly use for their own business.
"Part of the neat thing when you pull a group of people together when they're starting businesses and they're all in the same boat, they share a lot of information.
“We have our business coaches available. They can ask us questions whenever they have them, but they can also ask each other," he said.
"So it's been a tremendous way for them to sharpen their skills, learn new techniques to help them manage their businesses, and in some cases, we don't even get involved. It’s just happening. It's really neat and we're hoping to duplicate that here."
The same coaches and mentors that provide training and help at the Lincoln incubator will be available to help new business owners at the Nebraska City incubator. The coaches and mentors are there to have a support system for the new business owners.  
Nebraska City's Treehouse Business Incubator is located on the second floor of American National Bank. Shrader said the incubator's name came from its location being on the bank's second floor, Nebraska City being the "Home of Arbor Day" and because it will be almost like it's own community where other businesses will help each other be successful.
Bors said the location is ideal for an incubator because it's handicapped accessible and there's a coffee room, bathroom, six vacant suites for offices and a conference room.
"It really is very generous on their part to make this space available for this project because it won't be a huge money maker for them," Bors said. "It's more of a community service type thing."
SCC Nebraska Business Development Center Associate Director and Entrepreneurship coach Zach Zimmerman attended the unveiling ceremony Wednesday and liked the open feeling the location offers and that will allow for business owners to communicate with each other on a daily basis.
"It's a great space," Zimmerman said. "The physical space I think has a lot to do with (an incubator being successful)."
American National Bank branch manager Brenda Beaumann, who is also on the NCAEDC board, said the new incubator being located in town is exciting.
"I think it's a great idea. I was very excited to see some of the people from the Lincoln incubator come down here. I was so excited to see that because that tells me that there is a need for this, that they're excited about it because obviously they believe in it, and I think it's a great networking piece for the businesses starting up," Beaumann said. "It's great for the businesses that have already been and that do exist. It's great, to me, all the way around."
Bors added the incubator is geared toward new business owners who just need an office space to operate from.
Zimmerman feels Nebraska City will benefit from having a business incubator.
"It seems like there's demand here in Nebraska City," he said. "So hopefully that coach and the incubator will provide sources for them and it kind of helps them with that."
He added that its tough for a new business to stay open. He said more than 50 percent of new businesses will fail.
"There's a lot of different stats out there about small businesses that are start-ups - how they create jobs, create commerce and how they're kind of the fuel for dwelling, but they fail at a pretty high rate," he said. "There's different stats on what that rate is, but it's more than 50 percent. So the odds are against you if you're a start-up business."
Shrader said the financial responsibility to start a business and keep it running can be an issue with new business owners.
"Well one of the things that we've seen and we've seen complaints in our office is we have a lot of people who start businesses, they get into it and realize that things aren't working exactly the way that they had expected," she said. "By having the incubator here in Nebraska City then we can provide them with the resources - the coaching and mentoring - that can help them figure out before they get into a business whether it's going to be a go or whether its not going to be a go.
"In the long run, it saves them a ton of money," she added. "If you figure out what it would cost to open up a small shop on main street downtown we're talking $500 a month rent, all of the marketing stuff to get set up, getting the phone lines hooked up, getting the utilities - easily it costs them between $1,500 to $2,000 to get set up."
"And that's overhead costs that are with them every month that they've got to cover from day one," Bors added.
For example, Shrader suggested that if someone wanted to open up a coffee shop the coaches and mentors will help that new business owner determine how many cups of coffee that person has to sell in order to pay the bills and make a profit.
Incubator participants are put on a short-term, tiered low-rent plan that increases gradually every year with the hope that once they "graduate" in three years from the program that they can purchase their own business storefront while already having a successful operation.
Bors said signing a three- to five-year lease for a new business owner trying to open a store front or office can be quite a financial commitment.
"We kind of remove that risk for them. We've had businesses in our incubator for six months and then we've had them stay for three-and-a-half years. So when they feel like they're ready to leave or they need more office space because they're expanding, they move," he said. "Until they get to that point to where they can afford their own space, they can stay in the incubator."
SCC Entrepreneurship Center Administrative Assistant and coach Cat Leverett said her job as a coach is to take the business owner's product idea and nurture it toward success.
"So we help the business owner work that out, get it out, get someone who's on board with you, develop your team and learn from other people, and hopefully in three years your business will be safe and a nice solid seed that you plant right into the community and it affects the whole state," Leverett said.
"When we look at incubation we look at small business development. We look at eliminating risk and maximizing your assets, and when that translates to positives for individuals in small business then that translates that way to the community. And it's just a big circle."
SCC serves a 15-county service area and Otoe County is a part of that area. Bors said Nebraska City has a lot of recreational opportunities, golf courses, the Lied Lodge & Conference Center, fiber optic Internet access, a beautiful downtown business district, the Missouri River, orchards and more making it a prime spot to grow.
"We're really excited about the prospects for Nebraska City. I mean Nebraska City has a ton of great things going for it," he said. "There's a lot of vibrancy.
"You're all ready in good shape, but I think you're even in a position to grow into bigger and better things," he added. "This program is all about creating new businesses locally and new jobs locally and if we can do that then I would be thrilled."
John Granfors of Seward was visiting a friend in Nebraska City Wednesday afternoon and attended the incubator unveiling at American National Bank. Granfors is six months into starting up his 3D printing company, 3D Rapid Revolution, in Lincoln. He went to the ceremony to network and meet with "some new faces."
Granfors' company is currently setting up a strategic partnership with Dreamsteam, a new business that is a part of the Lincoln incubator, to make physical prototypes of parts from 3D printers.
"Right now they're outsourcing or printing out of Chicago and they want to be able to do it here locally," he said. "They had the engineering part that I needed and I had the production part that they needed. So it just made sense to mirror the companies and grow them in parallel."
Granfors' company will be making fully-functional prototypes of parts for Dreamsteam. 3D printing is being called the "Third Industrial Revolution.
"Nothing this big has come along since the invention of the printing press," Granfors said. "This is the first time in history that a machine will have the ability to replicate itself."
Granfors' said 3D printing prototypes products nowadays can be made out of metal, glass, food, plastic and even human tissue. He's heard of a 3D printer that can make edible pancake batter and other edible food and he heard recently that it's predicted that within 10 years a functioning human heart will be able to be printed using this technology. He added that a printer will be debuting soon that will be able to print functioning circuit boards.
"They're projecting the industry will quadruple in the foreseeable future," he said. "It's not quite there yet, but it's getting there quickly."
According to, Forbes magazine predicts that by 2020 3D printing could be a multi-billion dollar industry and this technology will be in many offices and homes worldwide. Granfors agrees with that because the cost of the printers will decrease making it more affordable for the average consumer to purchase.
Gransfors' prototypes will be made of ABS plastic, dissolvable material or nylon. Rapid prototyping allows the making of new or modified parts quickly. Before 3D printing, if a part is needed it was a long and expensive process because parts sometimes have to be sculpted, formed and cast. Now new ideas can be digitally created in a few hours and printed that same day for use.
Granfors wanted to set up his business in the Lincoln incubator initially because the coaching would help him get his business off of the ground.
"I've got a military background. I'm retired Army. I've done construction my entire life," he said. "I had my own handyman business and there's a lot more to this that I don't know. And the coaching will help."
However, he opted out of using the incubator location because he needs a larger working space to house a bank of printers that he will need for his business. He said he will still use the coaches, mentors and training from the incubator program off-site.
He's impressed with the incubator in Lincoln because it allowed him to network, which ultimately led him to Dreamsteam after he met with Bors. Bors connected Granfors to Dreamsteam.
"I happened to walk in one day with an idea for a business and he (Bors) was the one working with Dreamsteam. As I was walking out of Steve's office he goes, 'This is who you need to talk to,'" he said. "The new (incubator) here would really push for people to start their own business.
"You know if you run into a problem there's somebody on here that can give you a hand that might have had that problem before, and you get a chance to network with people," he added.
Shrader said the new incubator will also benefit Nebraska City's surrounding communities, such as Hamburg, Iowa, and Syracuse.
"We're a region," she said. "When you raise the water, all of the boats float higher, and so it would create more jobs here or in Auburn, Hamburg - we all win."
Take Dian Haupt of Syracuse for example. Haupt is hoping to officially open her new business, My Child's Closet, in Nebraska City this month at 702 Central Ave. Haupt was also at the incubator's unveiling ceremony. Since she already has a store front, her office won't be located in the incubator. However, she too hopes to benefit from the coaching, mentoring and training.
"I think this is awesome," she said. "It's scary. It's scary to go out on your own not knowing what's your first step.
Haupt said new business owners would be able to find out if their products or services will be needed in Nebraska City.
Haupt will be selling used children's clothing, toys and blankets at her store. She's trying to target single parents who are barely making ends meet while raising their children.
"I want to aim towards the single parent because that's hard when you've got one income and sometimes its hard when you've got two and you're trying to pay the rent," she said. "You don't want your children out there in rags."
Haupt grew up in Nebraska City and used to work at Southeast Nebraska Community Action Head Start. She's seen first-hand children who came from poor households.    
When her business opens, she wants to donate a portion of her profits to the Wounded Warriors Project monthly and then display the donation check in her front window to let customers know how their money has helped others.
Haupt's first husband, who is now deceased, was a Vietnam vet who was severly wounded and left for dead until the American Red Cross transported him to a hospital in Japan.
"I know what that feels like when your husband is injured and you don't know what kind of condition he's going to be in when he comes back," she said while choking up. "It was hard."
Haupt wanted to take her two passions - children and Wounded Warriors - and intermingle them into her new business. Opening a business is unchartered territory for Haupt because she will be a new business owner. At a time when most people would be considering retirement, Haupt, who's 65, is doing a different direction.
Haupt is optimistic that there is a need in the community for her business.  
"That's the only scary part is making sure that I have something to sell in there," she said.
Bors said another goal for the incubator is to keep children in Nebraska City in the future.
"Another goal that I think would be a good one for the treehouse would be to keep some of the kids local too," he said. "Hopefully if kids in high school here in Nebraska City hear about the treehouse they may be sitting at home right now with the idea of a killer App or software program that they could get space here at the incubator when they graduate for next to nothing and possibly start that new software company right here in Nebraska City and then you keep them here rather than have them move to the west coast or the east coast."
Nebraska City Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Edwards said students will be benefitting from the treehouse incubator.
"I could definitely see the incubator as being a benefit to our students. We have several students that have entrepreneurial projects that they work on," Edwards said.
"In speaking with the gentlemen from Southeast Community College, we are going to further our conversations to see if there may be a connection between this program and some of our business classes at the high school, or potentially an after-school club at the middle school."
For people thinking about starting a new business or want more information about The Treehouse Business Incubator, contact Shrader at (402) 873-4293 or at

(Nebraska City News-Press reporter Julie Mancini contributed to this article.)