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SALT LAKE CITY — Following the Golden Rule, Thomas Lee and Ron Heffernan are starting a business incubator, called Church and State, which will promote altruism and selfless serving.
Church and State will provide a space that gives entrepreneurs access to free networks, free mentorship, free programming, free services, and free resources.
Lee and Heffernan bought the 121-year-old Central Christian Church in full, initially believing it to be nothing more than a good investment. Soon, Lee came with a completely philanthropic and altruistic idea, which would help improve the community.
It was the idea that with this building they could provide entrepreneurs and startups the first completely self-sustaining, no-strings-attached incubator.
“When Thomas first had the idea, and I give him full credit for it, I was scratching my head and wondering how we would be able to do it,” Heffernan said.
But from the very beginning, multiple organizations as well as the state and city have seen a way to give back to the community and have helped support Church and State in its goal. Along with these sponsors, they will also provide offices and private spaces for people who will pay a reduced rent, and hold their same vision.
Our goal is to make a vibrant community of people who want to support entrepreneurs. We don't want people who only think about what they can take. We want people that are giving. If everyone has that attitude here, people will come together.
"We have our core tenants which will be paying tenants. We want them to be altruistic; they have to have that mentality. They have to want to support entrepreneurs… We want them to be giving back,” Heffernan said.
For example, one patent attorney will rent a space at a reduced rate. In line with the Church and State vision, he will dedicate two full days of work a month to helping people get patent or legal advice.
By not worrying about bank loans, mortgages, or interest rates, Lee and Heffernan are able to put all money they make back into the incubator.
One of the greatest advantages Church and State offers entrepreneurs is a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who all want to help and learn from each other.
“We come across a lot people that are entrepreneurial but they don’t know what to do. Here, they can see what the other entrepreneurs are doing, and connect with people,” Heffernan said.
Garrett Clark, who is helping Lee and Heffernan, agreed.
“There’s a lot of people plodding around in the dark, and this will help them plod less. I think a lot of people are going to be really lucky that Church and State exists," Clark said.
Church and State’s ability to provide office space, mentorship, and resources at no cost coupled with their help-all mentality set them apart from all other incubators.
“There are lots of incubators from Ogden to Provo, but there is something that makes ours so dramatically different. We aren’t taking anything. This isn’t just another incubator,” Lee said.
“Our goal is to make a vibrant community of people who want to support entrepreneurs. We don’t want people who only think about what they can take. We want people that are giving. If everyone has that attitude here, people will come together,” Heffernan said.
As they continue with this model, they hope Church and State can become a place for everyone in the community to gravitate towards and benefit from. It is the hope of Church and State, that all who have been helped will in turn give to others, and help others grow.
Renovations are expected to finish within the next 90 days.