Some may know your editor began his encore, second career as an entrepreneurship “maven” (stuck name from TiE chapter) by going back to school to study what I had done for 35 years in startup insurance agencies. After becoming professionally qualified by AACSB business schools, I approached my local FL college, State College of Florida (SCF), about teaching the subject. Timing was perfect, and Dr. Amy Santos, then chair, took a chance on me. The rest is, as they say, is history -specialty in veterans entrepreneurship, five publications including the Entrepreneurship Quick Study Guide in college bookstores, and this blog, Current in Entrepreneurship read globally.
Meanwhile SCF grew, turned over faculty and brought an administration mastermind together in its top two officers, President and EVP Provost, Drs. Carol Probstfeld and Todd Fritch. These two had a vision for repurposing the college’s former library, a 40,000 square-feet space. After input from many stakeholders, they settled on a community entrepreneurship center for local businesses and future job growth. Fortunately, the Florida Dept. of Economic Development agreed with their vision granting $3.6 million joined by more funding from the SCF Foundation. Probstfeld and Fritch were committed to activities that had intentional connection to SCF academics, experiential learning, and brought an array of services for entrepreneurs and small businesses along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Nothing Like It Elsewhere
Last week I was given a tour by director Kim Richmond ,and was, quite simply, blown away! Traveling the country for entrepreneurship I know incubators and maker spaces, but this facility is unique. Each of the seven chosen services has it own area to include a television studio, two auditoriums for classes/meetings, a growth lab and student incubator, a personal branding lab, an academic partners space, entrepreneurship academy, a digital marketing collective, a coding academy, and the “creative (TV) studio” with state-of-the-art production equipment.
Dynamic Outreach to Small and Startup Business
Just the architecture is stunning, soft teal and blue college colors throughout, adaptive furniture per usage, and two quiet chambers just like on the old quiz shows ($64,000 Question).
Center Director, Kim Richmond, shown in Business Growth Incubator space.
If you live anywhere in the U. S., the climate, our FL economy, and this new facility deserve a close look for basing your business in Bradenton, Sarasota or Venice on the Florida Gulf Coast. Very few entrepreneurship centers if any have the utility, convenience and resources this new 26 West Center brings to the table.