The North Carolina Arts Incubator, located in downtown Siler City, is the brainchild of Leon Tongret, former director of the small business center at Central Carolina Community College. Business incubators were started by the federal government in the 1980s, and today there are over 2,000 nationwide. Only seven are oriented toward the arts. There are over forty business incubators in the state, but Siler City has the only arts one. Among the things an arts incubator does is offer customized work space to artists. With 70,000 square feet in seven buildings, Siler City's incubator is the largest in the nation, with a planned expansion to 250,000 square feet. Pittard describes the project which links together the arts, historic preservation, and economic development.