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Federal, county governments step up support for economic diversification

$9 million will go toward building a new business incubator in St. Petersburg.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. August 30, 2019
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A rendering of the new business incubator planned for St. Petersburg. Courtesy photo.
A rendering of the new business incubator planned for St. Petersburg. Courtesy photo.
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The federal government has invested in Tampa Bay’s booming business environment in a big way, by agreeing to provide $4.5 million in matching funds that will be used to design and build a two-story, split-level, 45,000-square-foot business incubator on land provided by the city of St. Petersburg.

According to a press release, Pinellas County has also pitched in with a pledge of $4.5 million.

The facility, to be built on the southwest corner of 11th Avenue South and Fourth Street North, will provide support for technology and advanced manufacturing startups. It will be operated by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center — parent company of the TEC Garage business incubator located at 501 First Ave. N. in downtown St. Pete.

"This is the next step in our evolution," states Tonya Elmore, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, in the release. "We’re excited for the construction of this purpose-built incubator that will foster high-tech and advanced manufacturing ventures. The programs provided will include coaching, mentoring, educational opportunities, access to investment and more innovative programs aimed at early-stage entrepreneurs."

The federal portion of the funding comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, which was authorized by Congress to allocate $600 million to help communities recover from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; wildfires; and other 2017 natural disasters.

The goal of the investment is to make the economies of counties like Pinellas, which are prone to disruption by hurricanes, more resilient and diversified.

"Increasing economic resiliency will be a significant goal of the new Tampa Bay Innovation Center,” states Mike Meidel, director of Pinellas County Economic Development, in the release. "By further diversifying the economy and creating an environment for technology jobs, we can actively encourage smarter growth and higher wages for our citizens."

Some of the incubator’s planned features, according to the release, include a prototype lab equipped with 3D printers, a podcast studio, educational and collaborative space, a coffee shop and space for corporate innovation partners.


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