by Dennis Powell
NBIA’s Incubator Network of the Year award was new in 2013. With more and more incubation programs involved in multiple sites and no way of recognizing them without shortchanging those programs, single-incubator programs, or both, it became clear that a new category was necessary.
The inaugural honoree is the University of Central Florida Business Incubation Program, headquartered in Orlando, which is also the site of two of the network’s 10 incubators. The others are located in smaller cities in Central Florida and are operated in cooperation with those cities or their home counties. People familiar with municipal governments will quickly recognize that keeping eight discrete cities happy is not an easy task, yet the UCF program manages to do it.
Part of the reason may be its success. A study commissioned by Florida High Tech Corridor (a 23-county consortium of economic development organizations, colleges and business organizations) revealed that from 2009 through mid-2011, the UCF program was instrumental in creating nearly 1,500 jobs with earnings in excess of $62 million. As a result, the return on investment to government was substantial, the report said. With an annual investment of $1.81 million, governments received a total of $9.1 million in tax revenues. In fact, the report said, the annual revenues returned 141 percent on the total 10-year investment of $6.5 million. And this was during a severe economic downturn.
Keywords: access to capital, client services, best practices
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