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International consultant leads foreign incubator.

At 1540 Broadway, the red carpet is rolled out waiting for foreign firms that want the location and assistance needed to start a business in New York City.

As part of its incentive deal with the city, Bertelsmann AG, which purchased the bankrupt skyscraper last year, agreed to open the International Business Incubator ("IBI") on the 28th and 29th floors of the Midtown skyscraper.

Incubators are designed to provide not only office space, but, more importantly, advisory services that can help fledgling companies assimilate.

At 1540 Broadway, those services will be provided by a "Commercial Concierge" and, for this role, Bertelsmann has hired Parter International, a consulting firm that assists international firms here and abroad.

"Bertelsmann is not in the business of economic development," said Christian Alpers of Bertelsmann on the decision to retain an outside firm to administer the services.

Parter International is under the leadership of Alan Parter, an attorney who used his experience as an investment advisor, international public relations executive and government official working with foreign firms to open his own consulting firm. Tenants of the IBI, Parter said, will generally be small, new firms rather than fledgling U.S. branches of large foreign companies. They will sign a "userfriendly" lease complete with a 90-day termination clause. Tenants pay between $1,999 and $9,250 for units that range from two to 10 rooms. Use of conference rooms, electricity and telephone system are included at no extra charge.

Each tenant is entitled to five hours of concierge services per month free of charge. There are four types of services offered: Government relations, business development, introduction to service providers, and personal matters.

"All of that is put together to make it as easy as possible for a foreign firm to set up a business here," he said.

A roster of service providers, including lawyers, bankers, accountants and search firms and even messenger firms, is prepared for the tenant.

"If you don't know how to find them in a strange and new market, it can take a lot of time and take time away from doing business," he said.

The concierge will also help tenants comply with regulations and take advantage of programs available to them.

In the area of business development, the concierge will help firms identify and position themselves through market research and public relations.

On personal matters, they will help tenants find apartments and schools.

All of these things can become very difficult, Parter said, without the support of a big company.

"Soon as they sign the lease, we're working with them before they arrive to help them set up, he said.

"What we are saying to them is we will help you by providing a vital location, which is New York, and get you started," he said.

Founded two and one-half years ago, Parter International counts among its clients Asian, European and South American firms and their governments.

Their various projects include: Helping the British government in its efforts to do joint ventures with other countries, doing promotions for governments, assisting American companies seeking licensing abroad and helping key Japanese banks become "good corporate citizens" via foundations and endowments, etc.

Parter has written on the subject of corporate assimilation. His book, Going Local: How Global Companies Become Market Insiders, published by the Economist Intelligence Group, is a group of case studies that examine how companies like Nissan, Mitsui, Pfizer, Hewlett Packard, IBI, and Sears became household names in foreign countries. "Most of my clients are here and say 'How do I fit in locally. How am I seen not as a foreigner but an active concerned committed member of the community.'"

A former deputy Commissioner of Commerce for New York State, heading its International Division, which is responsible for promoting exports and attracting foreign investment. While in that post, he organized and led more than 20 overseas trade and investment missions, was responsible for the state's seven overseas offices and initiated the state's Joint Venture Acquisition Program.

Patter also practiced corporate law in New York City, was a senior vice president of an investment advisory company and served as deputy commissioner and legal counsel for the New York City Commission for the United Nations and Consular Corps., where his responsibilities included negotiation between the diplomatic community and U.S. governments.

He was also executive vice president of the GCI Group, an international, public relations firm with offices in 26 cities worldwide.

Parter continues to serve on a number of federal and state government councils on trade and investment and lectures on these subjects.

While IBI is not serving tenants yet, it is the furthest attempt by the city or state to open a foreign incubator in New York. Plans to open a full-service incubator at the World Trade Center have been aborted. Sources say the idea could not be "fully sold" to the Port Authority, which owns and manages the towers.

The World Trade Center is offering some free rent to foreign companies, but the key to the incubators, experts say, is the services offered and the nurturing.

"A lot of the [firms] we see are small," said Susan Eldring of the New York Chamber of Commerce. "They don't know if they're. going to succeed, so they need that..."
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Title Annotation:Bertelsmann AG opens International Business Incubator at 1540 Broadway, New York, New York; contracts Parter International, international consulting firm
Author:Fitzgerald, Therese
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jul 7, 1993
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