The Tampa Bay Innovation Center has kicked off a $3.5 million fundraising effort for the organization’s new home in St. Petersburg.
The initiative coincides with the release of new design concepts for the planned Innovation Center, a 45,000-square-foot building that will be the first in Pinellas County purposely constructed to focus on entrepreneurs and technology startups. (See design renderings from The Beck Group in the gallery below.)
“It’s a wonderful facility, designed from the ground up for incubator companies, particularly the technology companies that we are looking for,” said Mike Meidel, Pinellas County Economic Development director.
The new building will be operated by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a nonprofit tech incubator and accelerator. It will be located on 2.5 acres donated by the city of St. Petersburg at 4th Street South and 11th Avenue South in the Innovation District. Site work is scheduled to start July 29 with the project completed in two years. The county was awarded a $7.5 million U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration grant last year, and the Board of County Commissioners authorized up to $4.5 million as a match. The county is seeking state and local funds for the match, and potentially could tap a Penny for Pinellas capital projects allocation.
The additional private fundraising will cover a cost increase that is in in part due to Covid-19.
“The prices for all the materials have gone through the roof, as has labor, so we’ve seen an escalation in the cost of about $2 million, due to Covid increases and also due to the fact that the land we have donated is in the Coastal High Hazard Area. So we’ve got to lift the entire building two feet higher than we thought we were going to have to do. We’ve got to have additional fill and construction materials to lift it up higher from the base flood elevation. That was an unexpected expense,” Meidel said. “We always knew we would be raising $1.5 million from the private sector for furniture, fixtures and equipment for the facility. That we’ll need before the facility opens in July 2023, but we need to get a very good start on the additional $2 million for the vertical structure right away.”
There’s an extensive list of sponsorship and naming right opportunities for the building itself as well as special spaces inside:
• A digital fabrication lab with 3D printers and laser cutters to help entrepreneurs design and test their vision for products
• 30,000 square feet of dedicated incubator space
• Classrooms for training programs
• A large event space
• Large and small conference rooms
• Podcast rooms
• Several lounges, wellness center and break room
• A community cafe
“It you want to tell the world that you care about entrepreneurship and innovation and creativity, it’s a great way to let the world know about that,” Meidel said.
The second floor of the building will have market-rate tenants, creating opportunities for established companies to connect with entrepreneurs and startups.
“Financial services firms or large manufacturers or companies with a strong R&D component to what they do have the opportunity to be tenants in the building and rub elbows with these idea guys every day, and potentially be an exit strategy for them,” Meidel said. “If a new company is starting up with mobile apps or cybersecurity you could actually utilize the tenants to help you out with subcontracts.”
Tonya Elmore, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, will be overseeing the fundraising initiative.
“A state-of-the-art Innovation Center is key to Pinellas County, and the region in growing and solidifying the local entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Elmore said. “It will not only continue to establish Pinellas County and the region as the center for technology and innovation, but drive investment dollars and create hundreds of jobs.”
The Innovation Center is expected to create 228 new direct jobs and $28 million in economic impact by 2026. It is projected to sustain 1,265 direct and indirect jobs, and its clients and graduates are expected to generate $127 million in annual revenue.
For more information about sponsorships, naming rights or leasing, contact Elmore at 727-547-7340 or email@example.com