Business Incubator Opening August 1 With Ribbon Cutting

"BizLinc" Will Offer Services to Startups for Area Entrepreneurs

 

Last updated 8/2/2023 at 10:41am

Courtesy City of Lake Wales

Renovation of the facade of the business incubator is expected to occur this fall, according to city officials. The architectural rendering shown here was funded by a GiveWell grant arranged by CRA Chairman Robin Gibson.

The re-growth of a business district in the heart of the Northwest Neighborhood is the goal of a $1.2 million investment of American Rescue funds by the City of Lake Wales to spur creation of a business incubator. A ribbon cutting ceremony is now scheduled for noon on August 1 to mark the grand opening of BizLINC, located in a former dental office at 225 Lincoln Avenue.

The grant of the federal funds last July has allowed Florida Development Corporation, a Tampa-based non-profit, to remodel the building in a year-long process. FDC is one of the developers already partnering with the Community Redevelopment Corporation (CRA) to build affordable housing in the Northwest Neighborhood, a stated goal of the Lake Wales Connected plan.

Funds for the project came from the American Rescue Act which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden two years ago. The city received some $7 million, which must be directed to economic development projects.

COO Derrick Blue told LakeWalesNews.Net that the concept offers businesses the opportunity to be hosted and nurtured by experienced business leaders while receiving a variety of benefits ranging from subsidized rent, services and internet coverage to office space and utilities. Each applicant will pay rent in exchange for the services they receive.

BizLINC staff will provide qualified entrepreneurs a variety of training and business-related services, such as strategic planning, financial reporting, technical assistance, ecommerce support, public-speaking certifications, office space and much more.

"We build an entrepreneurial eco-system," Blue said.

The 3,570 square-foot business incubator will provide services and coaching to individuals wishing to start or grow their business concepts. The grant funds will be provided to the corporation in three annual phases, with the final tranche dependent upon agreed performance goals.

News file photo

The former dental office at 225 Lincoln Avenue has undergone interior renovation and should become a busy location, with some 20 start-up businesses utilizing services, resources, and classes there. The facade will be updated in coming months.

The incubator will fulfill two other goals itemized in the plan, designed to fuel economic growth and higher property values.

In their original presentation to the commission more than a year ago, FDC directors explained that applicant will be provided with a variety of services and support to help them grow their business ideas, but stresses that they must be on the 'CUSP' of success, explaining that the entrepreneurs must be "coachable, offer a useable product, be sustainable, and be profitable."

Each applicant will be expected to participate in workshops and eventually become coaches themselves as they achieve success. FDC officers indicated that the process is "transformative" in the economic development of the host area.

Lincoln Avenue is also the target of several other development projects, including a new restaurant, a commercial plaza with upstairs apartments, and a law office. The once-thriving area has suffered from economic decline for several decades.

 

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