In just a few weeks, UCF’s mixed-business incubator at Daytona Beach International Airport will have its June grand opening. This $1.4 million renovation project was three years in the making.

The 8,000-square-foot building will house 20 companies with two meeting-style consultation rooms, and Volusia County will pay UCF $775,000 to manage the incubator under a three-year contract.

Gordon Hogan, director of the UCF Business Incubation Program, is optimistic that, once launched, more companies will be anxious to apply.

“Once things pick up steam and people come in and see for themselves, they will get interested,” Hogan said. “We have a great network system, one-on-one counseling, with lawyers ready to sit down and support our future clients.”

To date, one tenant has already signed on: Innovation-Research Engineering & Development, a small firm based in Edgewater. This company, although still growing, is technology-based, pioneering a new type of wind-turbine generator.

Currently, there are two other businesses interested in the location and several others considering.

UCF has nine other business incubators up and running within the Central Florida region; all have triumphed.

Hogan stressed the importance of the location with the neighboring Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, UCF Daytona Beach and nearby Stetson University.

Aside from the ready-made accessibility of Daytona itself, a solid infrastructure will guarantee this business incubator longevity. The community is excited about this project and especially the tallying of new jobs.

According to the Volusia County Department of Economic Development, the unemployment rate for Volusia County currently stands at 10.9 percent.

Hogan is also anxiously awaiting the new signage that will soon direct traffic from the already-busy Speedway Boulevard directly into the Daytona International Airport.

Phil Ehlinger, the county’s economic development director, has overseen the construction planning of the building from day one.

Ehlinger is pleased with the team who brought this business incubator to reality, emphasizing that they were not only on time, but under budget.

Potential tenants that are approved will be able continue to flourish in the mechanical and engineering sectors.

“Perhaps we may also prospect from a few entrepreneurs? I’m ready to hand this off to UCF, as they are such professionals,” Ehlinger said. “They know what they’re doing. UCF has a great track record and is No. 1 in the county as far as we’re concerned.”

Paul Mitchell, a business specialist who also works for the Department of Economic Development, has seen the incubator come to fruition since its first draft.

“I’ve watched and cultivated this incubator plan since the drawing board. I am so proud that it is happening here, and especially with UCF. Everyone, even the construction workers, have taken a little bit of ownership.”

Mitchell likes to describe himself as the man who has handled the “nuts and bolts” of the original blueprint.

“The construction is almost complete and we’re finally adding the finishing touches,” Mitchell said. “UCF will be managing the furniture, office supplies and the entire application process. This really is an awesome adventure, and I think we are ready.”

Source: Central Florida Future, Volusia energetic over new UCF incubator, by Andrea Keating, contributing writer. Published: Sunday, May 29, 2011;  Updated: Sunday, May 29, 2011 18:05