Wilbur Ross: Commerce Department Sending $10.2 Million to Innovation Park in Tallahassee

On Thursday, U.S. Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross announced in Tallahassee that the U.S. Commerce Department will send $10.2 million to Innovation Park to help launch a business incubator, including the North Florida Innovations Labs, a 40,000 square-foot facility.

Announcing the funds at an event on Thursday afternoon, Ross reviewed Leon County’s efforts in developing technology, praising the area as a “nucleus for innovation.” Ross said the project–which includes $6.8 million in local investments–will create 639 new jobs in a “high growth industry” over the next ten years. The facility itself will be finished by 2023.

“President Trump is working every day to empower our nation’s entrepreneurs so they can innovate, thrive, and create new jobs for Americans,” said Ross. “The business incubator at the Innovation Park of Tallahassee will advance business growth in the technology industries and support the region’s long-term economic recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.”

“The facility will include wet labs, a tissue and bio culture room, areas for engineering and light manufacturing, as well as space for prototype development. These features, along with Innovation Park’s supporting education, coaching, and mentoring programs, will work in collaboration with many other entrepreneurial resources in the region,” Innovation Park noted.

“Innovation Park aspires to be the destination for innovation, and we consider ourselves fortunate to be in a position to drive economic development and fuel entrepreneurship through our own financial investment, coupled with the major investments from our collaborating partners,” said Kimberly Moore, the chairwoman of the Leon County Research Development Authority (LCRDA).

“We hold a shared belief that with the establishment of the North Florida Innovation Labs our community will be well-positioned to move entrepreneurs through the journey from lab research to market reality, all while supporting economic growth,” Moore added.

Moore praised the area for its “great business climate” and noted that Tallahassee has three colleges to offer a highly educated workforce.

While the Economics Development Administration (EDA) will send $10.2 million in federal funds, the Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency/Office of Economic Vitality and the Florida State University Research Foundation will invest $2.5 million and the LCRDA will invest $1.8 million.

Florida Commerce Sec. Jamal Sowell, the president and CEO of Enterprise Florida, welcomed Ross on behalf of Gov. Ron DeSantis and praised the project.

“Investments in research and development are powerful economic drivers,” Sowell said.

Dr. Gary Ostrander, the vice president for research at Florida State University (FSU), weighed in on why the university was backing the project.

“We see real opportunities for the North Florida Innovation Lab to assist our faculty, staff and students to transition their technology from their offices and laboratories to the world,” said Ostrander.

Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey also spoke and showcased the $2.5 million in local government investments as the city looks to recruit and retain talent.

“This is a great win for the community and an investment that will spur high-tech business creation and ultimately deliver high paying jobs,” said Dailey. “These companies will provide more opportunities to retain some of our talented students in the area.”

“The Incubator represents a turning point for our region. It will help diversify our economy and create jobs by providing the necessary infrastructure to enable business growth and expansion, attract investment and retain talent,” said Leon County Commissioner Kristin Dozier. “It would not have been possible without years of work by Innovation Park and our partners that enabled us to take advantage of this rare opportunity.”

Dozier praised the project as “one of the biggest wins our community has ever had.”

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

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