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Business incubator eyed for West Volusia; forum scheduled Tuesday, July 16
One idea: Encourage film industry
By Joe Crews
posted Jul 8, 2013 - 5:26:55pm
Small businesses on this side of the county are being to fill out a survey about their potential interest in a business incubator for West Volusia.
Business owners and others also are invited to a forum Tuesday, July 16, on the incubator concept.
According to the survey, a small-business incubator would help start-up businesses and other small firms succeed, by providing access to business assistance through on-site workshops and one-on-one help.
The proposed facility would complement a 2-year-old county-funded incubator at Daytona Beach International Airport.
The survey can be completed online. It can also be found at www.volusiachamber.org.
Jerry Mayes, Deltona’s economic-development manager, said the two-page survey was sent by the city to hundreds of business owners and civic groups.
“We sent it to about 400 businesses, plus a lot of groups, like Chambers of Commerce,” Mayes said.
The survey originally was to be returned by July 5, but Mayes said the deadline was extended by two weeks to July 19.
The survey is being conducted by Sanibel Island-based firm Greenwood Consulting Group Inc., run by Jim and Gail Greenwood. They were hired by the county for $28,575 to gauge interest in a West Volusia incubator.
The company’s website says incubators can improve the success rate and growth of companies, whether they’re start ups, small businesses, or larger companies that are down-sizing.
The survey asks about specific business needs, whether the recipient thinks an incubator is a good idea for the West Volusia, and whether the recipient might use the incubator's services.
Mayes believes a West Volusia incubator is a good idea.
“I think it’s something that’s very much needed, very much due,” he said.
Successful clients of business incubators often create jobs for other people, Mayes said. And once companies graduate from the incubators, they need to find places from which to operate.
“We have a lot of empty store fronts, and we’re working very hard on creating a commerce center,” Mayes said.
Giuli Schacht heads up the Creative Industry Alliance, a new organization that is trying to generate governmental interest in the formation of a Volusia Film Commission.
Schacht thinks the county needs to diversify its economic-development efforts, and said an incubator could help.
“I think the greatest rate of return will be around the creative-industry sector,” Schacht said. “The incubator should have a good focus on the creative arts.”
That would include, among others, the sectors of film and video, photography, architecture, radio and all other media, music, and other services and goods that supply those industries.
There are different kinds of incubators, Schacht pointed out. She believes the West Volusia incubator should be a business “accelerator,” helping existing businesses grow.
“Rather than start from scratch, we would attract production companies into the incubator, which would attract other businesses and services to support those companies,” she said.
Schacht said the motion picture and television industries create high-paying jobs, purchase supplies and services in local markets, and generate new tax revenues for state and local governments.
Schacht has been pushing for the creation of a film commission since before talk of the West Volusia incubator started in earnest.
She has spoken about the economic benefits with mayors or city managers of every city on the west side of the county, several civic groups, staff members at Team Volusia Economic Development Commission and the members of the CEO Business Alliance.
She also has briefed Volusia County Chairman Jason Davis and Council members Josh Wagner and Pat Northey.
“I’ve had 100 percent support,” Schacht said. “Not one person has said this is a bad idea.”
Northey is taking a more measured approach.
“I think there’s certainly a capacity for incubators in West Volusia,” she said. “I suspect the message is going to be that there’s a need. … Then the question is, what kind of incubator do we want and where do we put it?”
As for whether the incubator should focus on the creative industries, she still has questions.
“I’m intrigued by the idea of a film incubator, but I don’t know how that is going to fit with the county’s efforts,” Northey said.
The public forum on the westside incubator will be 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, at the One Stop Career Center, 846 Saxon Blvd. in Orange City. The office is in the Market Plaza at Saxon’s intersection with Enterprise Road.
“This is our opportunity to discuss a creative industry incubator and the need for Volusia County's economic development investments to be extended to the west side of the county,” Schacht wrote, in an email to alliance members.
Editor's note: The correct date of the incubator forum is Tuesday, July 16, and not as published in the July 8-10 Midweek edition of the The Beacon. We regret any inconvenience.
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