Toru Takei, Assistant Manager (left) and Yuji Adachi, Secretary (right) of Industrial Labor Support Center, Industries Promotion Section, Chofu City Office
Chofu City Industrial Labor Support Center
Chofu City Industrial Labor Support Center is a center which supports those who want to start a business or have just started one. In order to vitalize business in Chofu City, the center collaborates with the Chofu City Commence and Industry Association and actively engages in supporting startups. We interviewed Toru Takei, Assistant Manager and Yuji Adachi, Secretary of Industrial Labor Support Center, Industries Promotion Section, Chofu City Office
Chofu Plaza Across, where Chofu City Industrial Labor Support Center is located
The center offers support in five fields: (1) startup and business management consulting; (2) organizing startup schools and various seminars; (3) managing Small Offices, a facility for supporting startups; (4) Startup Challenge Support; and (5) arranging business loans.
In startup and business management consulting, the center offers free consultation on various topics, from pre-startup support for those who want to open a shop or start a company, to handling management issues such as how to attract more customers. Topics range from fund-raising, sales channel expansion, tax or labor matters, to marketing. The center also organizes many consulting meetings covering timely themes, including startups by women, online shops, side businesses, using IT, and startups by seniors.
“Consultations are offered by busienss advisors expert in their respective areas, including small- and medium-sized company diagnosticians, labor and social security attorneys, and professionals from financial institutions. We offer professional advice free of charge, which is appealing. Some people are surprised that our advice is free, and we have visitors from other cities as well,” says Toru Takei.
The center attracts many consulters. In FY2014, the center offered a total of 443 consultations.
Startup schools are held twice a year for those seeking to start a business. Participants learn the logistics and knowledge required to start a businesse, and develop a business plan. The center also organizes seminars that are useful for starting or managing businesses. In FY2014, they held 19 seminars covering topics such as opening restaurants, or developing a mechanism to enhance sales and marketing capabilities at small- and medium-sized companies.
Private Small Office
The center serves as an incubation center supporting startups, and has seven private offices that are available 24 hours a day. The size of the “Small Offices” is 7.7 ㎡ to 12.9 ㎡. To reduce startup costs, they are leased out for 30,400 yen to 54,400 yen per month free of foregifts or deposits, and can be rented for up to three years. Business founders can benefit from having an office close to the city center, adjacent to Kokuryo Station, Keio Line, and also from the inexpensive rent, free of front-end payments. Furthermore, they can receive immediate business advice as the office is on the same floor as the center.
The Start-up Challenge Support is a relatively new business launched in FY2012. The business pays part of the rent of shops for those who want to own a shop in Chofu City. The center bears half of the rent (maximum of 50,000 yen a month) for up to one year.
“Some people have attended our startup school, launched their business, and are using our Small Office,” says Adachi.
Although there is a time frame for the Small Offices and Start-up Challenge Support, the center offers free consultation for an indefinite term, and going forward, they also want to focus on following up on post-startup stages.
“Our challenge going forward is to offer longer-term support. Instead of waiting to be consulted, we want to actively approach businesses and offer post-startup consultation and follow up on the business as they transform,” says Takei.
Consultation contents change over time as the business grows; for example, one might ask for startup advice, then launch the business, expand the business, and start considering recruiting strategies. Chofu City Industrial Labor Support Center’s theme going forward is to offer long-term consultation, and support issue-solving in respective stages.