New BizLINC Business Incubator Expected to Spur Economic Development
Renovated Building First of New Commercial Investment in Northwest Neighborhood
Last updated 8/5/2023 at 11:18am
A new business incubator funded in large part by the City of Lake Wales was celebrated at a recent ribbon cutting featuring a host of government and business representatives.
The 3,570 square-foot incubator was developed from a former dental office by Florida Development Corporation, which will be moving its headquarters to the new facility from Tampa, according to city sources. Some 75 guests joined officers of the corporation for the celebration.
The $1.2 million contribution from the City of Lake Wales came from the American Rescue Act which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden last year. The city received some $7 million which must be directed to economic development projects.
City Manager James Slaton told the crowd that by giving "local entrepreneurs the tools to succeed (BizLINC) will positively impact Lake Wales. New business will open and citizens will have more options," he said.
The business incubator is located at at 225 Lincoln Avenue. That street comprised the historic economic core of the Northwest Neighborhood, a traditionally overlooked minority-majority area which is seeing significant new investment by the Lake Wales CRA.
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.
"During construction, we received more than 60 applications from entrepreneurs and business owners interested in becoming members," Derrick Blue, Chief Operating Officer at FDC, told LakeWalesNews.net.
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."We build an entrepreneurial eco-system," Blue said.
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. They have further plans to build a two-story mixed use building nearby, featuring residential units on the second floor and office and retail space downstairs.