Happy birthday UCF Apopka Business Incubator.
 Now in its fifth year, the Incubator celebrated its anniversary with an Open House Celebration yesterday. Guests of the event took tours of the building, its working spaces and learned about the companies that call the Apopka Incubator home. They saw client demonstrations and heard about Incubator success stories. Incubator clients BGF Consulting, NOAH Certified (Tiny House Inspections), The Apopka Voice, Secret Machine, Invigicom and Jete Tours were among the businesses that presented a display during the open house.

  Incubator Office Manager Leanne Fleischer was appreciative of the approximately 50 guests who attended and for the five years in Apopka.

“Thank you to everyone that came out yesterday in support of the UCF Business Incubator in Apopka,” she said. “The last five years have been very rewarding to me; being able to help our clients grow their businesses and growing jobs for Central Florida makes me extremely proud.”

Rick Parks was also impressed at the success of the businesses that have emerged from the Incubator.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our Incubator clients and what they’ve achieved,” said Parks, Site Manager for the UCF Business Incubator – Apopka. “I am also grateful for the support we continue to receive from the community.”

 Back in April of 2012, the Incubator opened its doors in Apopka, and since then has nurtured new businesses that have generated revenues well into the millions. And while the Apopka Incubator may be five years old, the incubation programs at UCF began in 1999, and have assisted more than 350 early-stage companies, who’ve sustained nearly 3,700 jobs throughout Central Florida. These companies have also had a total impact on regional economic output (GDP) of $2.48 billion.

The UCF Business Incubator – Apopka means business

It originated as a partnership between the City of Apopka and the University of Central Florida (UCF) to assist in furthering Apopka’s economic development goals. The idea is to address local business development and entrepreneurship needs with the long-term goal of facilitating new jobs and economic development opportunities for Apopka. The primary objective of the UCF Business Incubator in Apopka is to enable emerging businesses to accelerate their growth, and to create high impact jobs in the local community.   Companies in the Incubation Program also contribute to the local economy directly by purchasing products and services from local Apopka businesses and indirectly through local tax revenues.

It’s a slow process that is hard to measure in a bottom line overview, however, in five years there are some impressive markers to take into account.

According to its January/2017 bi-annual report, Incubator companies spent nearly $400,000 with local businesses in 2016. This is money that went directly into the Apopka economy. The Business Incubation Program uses a software product called IMPLAN to calculate the economic impact of the Incubation Program from a tax perspective.  The latest impact numbers are for 2014 and show the program returned $1.42 for every dollar invested. The IMPLAN report for 2015 is expected to show an even greater return based on the client companies job growth.

2016 Economic Impact

As of December 31, 2016, the Incubator has 11 onsite client companies in different stages of incubation. Incubator businesses have created over 100 jobs, and the total estimated revenue generated by the client companies in the last half of 2016 is $1.36 million.

The full-service incubator offers professional office space for emerging businesses while providing them with entrepreneurial training and services, including business growth support, management assistance, mentoring and coaching, marketing, financial analysis and access to capital, educational programs, professional referral networks, and a supportive environment to network with other small businesses. These key services and office support infrastructure are included in the all-inclusive fee which incubator companies pay.

And in Apopka, the Incubator has also become a place where the business community goes to meet.

According to Fleischer, the Incubator holds well over 100 meetings and events there every year for businesses and organizations like Sam’s Club, the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce, McDonald’s, Homeowner Associations, the City of Apopka, and CONA. There was even a candidate forum at the Incubator last year during the City Commission elections.

“We let the community hold their meetings here for free,” said Fleischer. “We want this to be a resource for Apopka businesses.”

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