Sarasota college opens new Entrepreneurship Center

The world-class building, located at the State College of Florida (SCF) Bradenton, is intended to be the hub of entrepreneurial activity that will contribute to the country’s economic engine.

Kim Richmond, director of the program, also indicated that the State College of Florida (SCF) innovation center will not only support entrepreneurs and business owners, but will also serve as a generator of opportunities for the community.  “We want to be the heart of the ecosystem,” she said.

“26 West Center is the intersection between our campus and the community,” the director said. “We offer entrepreneurs and small business owners resources to start and grow their businesses – from office space and training, to access to a network of mentors, investors and other entrepreneurs. This will be a catalyst for innovation and economic growth in the entire region.”

The 40,000-square-foot, two-story facility was funded by the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, which provided a $3.6 million grant.

The 26 West Center also offers the following services:

An Entrepreneurial Growth Lab: a business incubator that provides for-rent offices, conference rooms and workspace to entrepreneurs starting or expanding a business. Tenants also have access to high-speed fiber-optic Internet access, lockable storage, mail service, free parking and break room for extra comfort when working.

Entrepreneur Academy: Entrepreneurs and small business owners can learn more through experience. In this space, established and successful entrepreneurs will teach classes and workshops, including “Entrepreneurship Essentials,” “Networking Made Easy” and “Digital Marketing for Entrepreneurs.”

SCF Coding Academy: This academy teaches the skills needed to launch a career in a high-demand tech job in less than six months. Anyone can start training for careers in coding, cloud computing, digital marketing and cybersecurity. All courses are non-credit and open to the public with no college admission or prerequisites required. Courses are offered by experienced instructors, lead to industry-recognized training and certifications, and include support from career coaches to assist with job placement.

The Center also houses a creative studio with next-generation digital equipment for videos and podcasts, as well as a personal branding lab and a digital collective for marketing assistance. These elements will be up and running in spring 2022. The Center can facilitate community events of all sizes, from community galas and corporate retreats, to board meetings and social club gatherings, with a full-service kitchen to support catering.

In addition, it will include a Personal Branding Lab; a Digital Center, which allows students to create content such as newsletters and social media postings for businesses and nonprofits; and a Creative Studio, which features more than 2,000 square feet of video production space.

“The Sarasota-Bradenton area is about to come of age. So it seems like the timing couldn’t be more perfect because of all the entrepreneurial activity going on.” said Richmond. According to her, people are commenting that there are a lot of interesting things going on in the community.

The program director did not disclose specific goals that are desired by the end of the year, but said she hopes the building will bring exposure to the area.  “What we really want is exposure and general use,” she said. Finally, he indicated that some amenities are ready for use, while others will be launched throughout the year. “We want to make sure they have awareness and access. We want to build businesses here, and build the people who build them.”

The center will be open to the public and will offer both free workshops and fee-based classes. The school is in talks with several universities, including the University of South Florida and the University of Florida, along with CareerSource SunCoast, to provide a pathway for students once they graduate.

El miércoles 29 de septiembre se realizó una jornada de puertas abiertas en el 26 West Center, en el que se invitó a conocer todo lo que sus instalaciones tienen para ofrecer. Si no tuvo la oportunidad de asistir, puede encontrar más información o agendar un tour privado por medio de su página web or call 941-752-5449.

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