Dade City to help start-ups with 'business incubator'

Published Jan. 23, 2013

DADE CITY — With an eye toward future business development, city commissioners agreed Tuesday to pull $50,000 from a reserve fund for a partnership with the Pasco Economic Development Council.

The money will help fund start-up costs for a council-led project tentatively called the Dade City Business Incubator. The EDC will contribute $50,000 and organizers plan to seek a $100,000 match from the county, said EDC president John Hagen. Dade City will only be asked to pay its share if the county agrees to contribute, he added.

Council leaders and business partners have been toying with the incubator concept for a couple of years, Hagen said. The idea is to create a development system that essentially helps "grow" a business, he explained. Clients get help with everything from location and equipment to marketing and financing assistance, he said.

Potential clients could be someone with an established home-based business who wants to branch out, an entrepreneur looking to start a new business, or a local student wanting to flush out a new technology idea, he said. Putting them all under one roof would allow companies to bounce ideas off each other while sharing support services and some overhead costs.

"I see this as an investment in our future," said City Commissioner Bill Dennis, motioning to approve the partnership.

Mayor Camille Hernandez and other commissioners agreed.

"What we have here, with Main Street and our downtown is good," Hernandez said. "But Dade City needs to step it up a notch. This is a unique opportunity."

If financing comes through for the start-up, the council plans to locate the incubator in the Dade City Business Center, the former Lykes processing plant. The availability of space, and an established partnership with nearby Saint Leo University, helped with the decision to create Pasco's first incubator in Dade City, Hagen said. If it is successful, officials hope to replicate it in west Pasco.