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Business incubator planned near downtown St. Petersburg

Published Jun. 20, 2014

ST. PETERSBURG — A nonprofit organization that nurtures technology startups has gained initial city approval to build a business incubator south of downtown.

The Tampa Bay Innovation Center can now start raising money to build a 40,000-square-foot center to house medical and marine science entrepreneurs on the city-owned 2.5-acre site at Fourth Street and 11th Avenue S.

The $9 million project will deliver on the city's promise to stimulate the tech sector, council member Darden Rice said.

"This is exactly the type of collaboration and innovation that the whole community has been waiting for," she said.

The innovation center, based in Largo, already has a deal with St. Petersburg College's downtown facility to open a smaller incubator later this year. The new property is close enough to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and downtown to make it attractive to startups, board chairman Christopher Paradies said.

And the deal aligns with St. Petersburg's plan to become a technology hub, he said.

"All of those things just fit," Paradies said in an interview Thursday.

The property had been acquired recently in a land swap with All Children's Hospital. City planners were eying the parcel as a trailhead for the Pinellas Trail, and the innovation center has agreed to provide access to bicyclists.

A business incubator on the site only enhances its value, said Dave Goodwin, the city's director of planning and economic development.

"We'll get some more bang for our buck out this project," Goodwin said.

Charlie Frago can be reached at cfrago@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow @CharlieFrago on Twitter.

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