Communities today need innovative companies and strong entrepreneurial networks to link & leverage assets to boost productivity and convert 21st Century brainpower into wealth through innovation. In our corner of the world in Bradenton and Sarasota, we all know we live in paradise – which may be the reason that many of us are here in the first place, or have chosen not to leave. We also have an amazing array of resources that few places of this size are lucky to possess: four universities or colleges, multiple world-class research institutes, and numerous cultural gems that give us a standard of excellence that very few communities possess.
Consider as well – we have many active entrepreneurs, and huge latent reserves of capital through retirees and people who have been successful in business here. We have cities and counties with progressive ideas about how to grow and move into the future. We have up-and-coming business sectors that aren’t just about last century’s mainstays of tourism, agriculture and construction – but cross into sports and sports performance, knowledge-based businesses, bio-tech and medical devices and services, advanced manufacturing, marine science and technology, and many other high-potential sectors.
People don’t know what they don’t know. Right now entrepreneur is an “in” word and carries with it a connotation of excitement, and justly so. The very nature of entrepreneur as portrayed by the media is someone who throws caution to the wind and creates something like a Facebook, a Paypal or a Snapchat. What isn’t sexy about that?
The goals of the “Bradenton Innovation Center,” officially the Station 2 Innovation Center, are to create sustainable, knowledge-based, high wage jobs that will stay in the local area, and help to mitigate the “brain drain” from local universities & companies. It will serve as a catalyst for development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem for creation of new companies in high growth, strategic industry sectors. Since 2008/2009 Manatee and Sarasota County have included in their 5 year Strategic Plans the launch of a publically supported incubator – so now, if ever, is the time for action.