Kissimmee, Fla. — Five years ago the nation was still feeling the effects of a global recession and local economies throughout Florida were struggling.
The University of Central Florida, the City of Kissimmee, Osceola County and The Corridor decided not to wait for new businesses to move into the area. The partnership opened the UCF Business Incubator at the City Center, 111 Monument Drive in downtown Kissimmee to jump-start their economy.
Now five years on, the Incubator has helped 47 new client companies get their start in the Osceola region. Eight of them were “Soft Landing” clients—companies that wanted to establish a presence in the U.S. or in Central Florida and needed a support base to open an office.
Thirty-nine companies that were accepted into the program received help from UCF Business Incubation Program coaches, and counselors like the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and the HBIF (Hispanic Business Imitative Fund). The Incubator focuses on assisting companies that are industrial, commercial and institutional in nature; that tend to be higher wage jobs.
The result? Over 60 new local jobs have been created by Incubator client companies while they were located in the incubator. More than 200 local jobs sustained. Eleven companies that got their start at the Incubator have graduated and moved out on their own, according to Jim Bowie, site manager for the UCF Business Incubator – Kissimmee. The facility has 20 offices with meeting and conference rooms for companies to grow.
Small business is the backbone of the American economy, powering three-fourths of American economic activity, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. But small business requires investment.
Aided by Incubator support, Kissimmee Incubator companies raised almost $300,000 in outside investment for their startup efforts, Bowie reported. They have generated almost $8 million in revenues–and that’s not counting companies that have since graduated from the program, according to a Five-Year Economic Statistics Summary.
UCF Business Incubation coaching partners have held almost 100 Business Training Sessions in the Kissimmee Incubator whose topics have ranged from branding to marketing to fundraising to documentation and accounting, development strategy and operations.
The UCF Business Incubator – Kissimmee has facilitated more than 2,000 business meetings with client companies, local businesses, civic groups and associations.
“Business startups tend to fail at alarming rates and tend to grow in measurable and predictable patterns,” said Dr. Tom O’Neal, founder and executive director of the UCF Business Incubation Program.
“By studying the startup process, we can assist a startup business define its scope, identify its market potential and organize its operation to reduce the potential for failure and enhance and accelerate its rate of growth,” O’Neal explained.
“Technical assistance plays a big role, and so does networking. We’ve created an environment where new ideas can take hold and grow, and we’re improving that environment and accelerating that growth every day,” said O’Neal.
UCF launched its Business Incubation Program 16 years ago and now has facilities in Apopka, Daytona Beach, Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs besides its anchor facilities at Central Florida Research Park and the UCF Campus.
UCF’s Business Incubation Program has been lauded by business organizations nationwide, and currently ranks as the most experienced and successful university-based incubation program in the U.S.
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For more information contact
Jim Bowie, Site Manager, UCF Business Incubator – Kissimmee, 407-343-4300 Jim.Bowie @ucf.edu
Gordon Hogan, Director, UCF Business Incubation Program, 407-882-1577 Gordon.Hogan@ucf.edu
Larry Vershel or Beth Payan, Larry Vershel Communications, 407-644-4142 LvershelCo@aol.com
About the UCF Business Incubation Program
The University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program is a community resource that provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth / impact enterprises. Since 1999, this award-winning program has helped hundreds of local startup companies reach their potential faster by providing vital business development resources.
With seven facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the University of Central Florida, the Corridor, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia Counties, and the cities of Apopka, Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs. Participating companies sustain more than 3,600 local jobs and have had a total impact of $1.51 Billion on regional sales and $2.48 Billion on regional economic output. During the last fiscal year, the program has returned $7.95 for every $1.00 invested in the program.