COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. – A 9,000-square-foot building near Pine Ridge Road and I-75 is home to one of Collier County’s newest business ventures. It will house a soft landing accelerator that will help attract high tech companies from around the world.
“The capacity for Collier County to be an information technology hub as you would call it is very strong,” said Bruce Register, Director of Collier County’s Business and Economic Development Division.
But, there’s one catch. The county is using almost $1 million of your money to start the accelerator from a state grant. Inside the building, 20 to 30 companies can share office space at a reduced rate. It’s something former entrepreneurs like Bill Doherty says can make or break a business.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur and I know how hard it is to meet your initial cost and I think it will help bring businesses here and the right kind of jobs,” said Doherty.
The kind of jobs that aren’t the typical construction or tourism jobs seen in Southwest Florida. Register says tech jobs can help diversify the economy and attract younger families to the area. Some taxpayers say its worth the investment.
“I’ve been saying for a long time we need more infusion of young blood and a mixed age group here to really transport naples into the future and if we don’t have those kind of incentives I think we’ll just stagnate,” said taxpayer Marjorie Ziff-Levine.
The business accelerator is just one of two in Collier County. The other is a culinary accelerator in Immokalee.
If the county doesn’t generate 208 full time jobs in five years or $12.5 million in private sector investments, the county will have to return the money to the state.