Startups and growing businesses in Pasco County will soon have more opportunities for learning, development and shared space.
The SMARTstart Business Incubators
in Dade City and New Port Richey provide free workshops and classes, monthly roundtables, networking events and coworking space for entrepreneurs in Pasco County.
The Dade City incubator opened in July of 2013 and has already helped create 42 jobs with a total of 65 additional ones projected over the next two years. Four additional offices were recently added to the space, with another 3,800 square feet expected that will include an additional conference room and kitchen.
The 9,000-square-foot New Port Richey facilitate opened in June and plans are to expand with an additional 3,000 of space pending city approval. The space currently includes a large classroom and coworking space, and the expansion will mean more office suites as well as space for events such as pitch sessions.
During the opening of the New Port Richey incubator, the Pasco EDC was presented with a $50,000 sponsorship from Florida High Tech Corridor Council
and University of South Florida
which will help fund the expansion. Funds will also be used to invest in additional technology and support staff.
"It’s been kind of a rocket approach, which is really exciting," says Krista Covey, program director and economic development manager for the SMARTStart program. "We’ve had a lot of success stories, even as early as we are in the process."
The incubators are a project of the Pasco Economic Development Council
, whose goal is to help new and growing businesses in Pasco County. According to a study from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, 87 percent of businesses who graduate from an incubator program remain in business after five years, compared with 20 percent who don’t.
Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: Krista Covey, Pasco Economic Development Council