University of South Florida Polytechnic celebrated with community members, staff, incubated businesses and, well, just about everyone, the recent grand opening of the Blue Sky Incubators in Polk County. Information about Blue Sky and the incubation system can be found at Poly.USF.edu/BlueSky.
Blue Sky West is a 6,428 square-foot location at 116 S. Kentucky Ave. in Lakeland. Blue Sky East opened at 199 Ave. B NW in Winter Haven with 3,000 square feet.
The Blue Sky facilities are the first public business technology incubators in Polk County. They focus on attracting and nurturing entrepreneurial businesses by creating a place where USF Poly faculty, staff and students can work with businesses to develop innovative technology. Incubated companies will benefit from the proximity to and resources of a national research university as well as the assets of economic development networks.
“This is an important step for our region, as we cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation,” says Dr. Marshall Goodman, VP and CEO of USFP.
“These facilities will provide opportunities for a wide range of enterprises. Some will be raw start-ups, and some will be more advanced. Regardless of the stage, Blue Sky represents an opportunity to thrive.”
According to Goodman, “The story of innovation is the story of entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship is all about calculated risk. That is the principle upon which [we based] Blue Sky. We will provide a climate to nurture innovation.”
“This is a huge opportunity, not only for entrepreneurs but also for investors. We hope it will bring to this area more technology-oriented businesses with the potential for growth and new jobs.”
Initially, USF Poly will seek information technology companies interested in software, networking and developing specific IT projects.
There are 7,000 incubators and counting around the globe, and they create jobs, grow companies and help technology evolve. President Obama has pledged $250 million a year in federal funds to seed a regional network of such organizations–an effort aimed at growing jobs and innovation.
The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration says business incubators provide communities with significantly greater results at less cost than do any other type of public works infrastructure project.
A recent study conducted for the U.S. Economic Development Administration showed that business incubators provide communities with significantly greater results at less cost than do any other type of public works infrastructure project. In the study of the economic impacts and federal costs of EDA construction program investments, researchers found that business incubators are the most effective means of creating jobs; more effective than roads and bridges, industrial parks, commercial buildings, and sewer and water projects. In fact, incubators provide up to 20 times more jobs than community infrastructure projects (for example, water and sewer projects) at a cost of $144 to $216 per job compared with $2,920 to $6,872 for the latter, the report notes.
Business incubation programs provide entrepreneurs with a guiding hand to help them turn their ideas into viable businesses. Many thousands more jobs have been created by companies that have graduated from these programs and now operate self-sufficiently in their communities. For more information about business incubation and the EDA study, visit www.nbia.org/works.