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(Janesville, WI) Marcia Nelesen, Gazette

The fledgling Janesville Innovation Center is almost half filled less than a year after it opened, and officials are renting space faster than anticipated, said Al Hulick, economic development coordinator for the city.

Three new tenants signed contracts in December, according to a Thursday news release.

The center opened in January 2013, but the city did not get permission from the federal Economic Development Administration to sign leases until April.

The center has nine offices, and five of those are now occupied. One of the center's four manufacturing bays is occupied.

“That's way ahead of where we thought we'd be, as far as occupied,” Hulick said. “Normally, these things take a long time to ramp up.”

The business and manufacturing incubator on Janesville's south side aims to help owners of new businesses by providing space and business mentoring.

“The response we've gotten has been great,” Hulick said. “It normally takes these things a long time to ramp up.

“People are interested in it. The caliber of the tenants is right on line with where we want them to be. We have realized more revenue and under-realized expenses.”

Chances are good the center will add an “excellent” manufacturing company later this month, Hulick said.

The new tenants are:

-- HydroGeoLogic Consulting, founded by Lori Huntoon. Huntoon is a geologist with 20 years experience in environmental and regulatory oversight, education and project management. She has worked in both the public and private sectors. The company will offer regulatory compliance services, corporate compliance audits, environmental site assessments for real estate transactions and sustainability for communities and businesses.

--IV Quest, founded by Irais Valenzuela. The firm helps people find jobs. Services include job preparation and development and placement. Valenzuela attended Blackhawk Technical College and UW Rock County and worked at the Rock County Job Center.

--Tapzi, founded by Brian Rubash. Tapzi is a mobile applications company that allows businesses to send deals directly to phones based on proximity. Rubash has worked in a number of management and development positions in digital marketing, e-commerce and content management initiatives. Prior to starting Tapzi, Rubash was chief operating officer at a start-up game analytics company that raised private equity.

Tenants also include Novak Networx, That's Kinda! Cool11 and Simply Solutions.

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