SARASOTA — Sarasota County is on the verge of an agreement with the University of Florida that officials say will lure tech companies to the area and bolster the local economy.
On Friday, Sarasota County commissioners will meet for a special session to consider funding an educational engineering center run by UF with a $1 million grant to be paid over the next half-decade. The school's Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering will us the so-called “Innovation Station” to partner with local companies, K-12 schools and the startup economy.
The school will use the money to help lease a 1,500-square-foot office and to hire a local Innovation Station director and two coordinators, according to the grant agreement. UF is offering another $1 million to support the overall $3 million budget for the project.
The Innovation Station would connect UF graduates with local firms, allow local companies access to school technology and facilities and offer training for local students, among other outreach services.
According to a memo from Sarasota County Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Mark Huey, officials with UF, the county and the local business community have been discussing the program for 18 months.
“(The Innovations Station) will serve as a 'concierge' service for our existing tech businesses to access the college's innovation assets of students, faculty, research, intellectual property and other resources,” Huey writes in the March 16 memo. “The Station will also better position the county to attract innovation economy businesses to the county.”