Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Business Incubator Deserves Support

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Business Incubator Deserves Support

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

Back in January during his State of the State Address, Gov. Rick Scott extolled the importance of small businesses and jobs.

"Let's work together to diversify our economy," Scott said, "and help our weakest, our poorest and our most disadvantaged get a job even when times are tough across the nation."

Added Scott: "Let's work together to help every small business owner who is risking their life savings to succeed here in Florida. Let's work together to support the next young entrepreneur ... building the next great idea here in Florida."

What Scott described is exactly what the Beaver Street Enterprise Center has been doing for the past 13 years.

The center is located in ZIP code 32204. There, 36 percent of the people live below poverty level - the third highest ZIP code of people living below poverty in the city.

It is sandwiched between ZIP codes 32206 and 32209. With a poverty level of 54 percent, 32206 has the highest number of people of impoverished people in the city. ZIP code 32209 has a poverty level of 40.5 percent and the second-highest number of poor people in the city.

On top of that, 32209 is the worst ZIP code in the state in which to find a job.

Yet the Beaver Street center has been having some success in trying to reverse the decades of economic and social neglect which plunged those areas into poverty and sapped the will of many people to believe in their own power to reverse it.

Since opening in 2003, the Beaver Street center has helped to launch more than 100 new businesses and, according to its website, created more than 2,000 jobs.

One client, Andy Harold, started his technology training company at the Beaver Street center. In 2010, Inc. Magazine named Harold's company one of the top 500 fastest-growing businesses in the nation.

The incubator also trains residents to work in the hospitality industries and as certified nursing assistants; jobs that can pay a livable wage and help struggling people who live in those neighborhoods find paths to self-sufficiency. …

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