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CRA board invests in small business incubation strategy to strengthen entrepreneurs in Lake Wales

Lake Wales, Fla. (July 27, 2022) – Board members of the Lake Wales Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) approved funding for a three-year grant agreement with the Florida Development Corporation (FDC) worth nearly $1 million for the creation of a small business incubator, called BizLINC. Derrick Blue, Chief Operating Officer at FDC said, “BizLINC will provide an environment for companies to turn innovative ideas into profitable realities.” The 3,570 square-foot business incubator will be located on Lincoln Avenue in the city’s northwest neighborhood. BizLINC staff will provide qualified entrepreneurs with a variety of training and business-related services, such as strategic planning, financial reporting, technical assistance, ecommerce, office space and much more. “We plan to mirror the same process used at our business incubator in East Tampa,” Blue said. “Starting a business, sustaining a business and expanding the business are three primary factors,” Blue stated. The mission of BizLINC is to help startup companies and entrepreneurs build successful companies, which in turn creates more job opportunities and drives new innovation and economic development in Lake Wales and beyond. “Giving local entrepreneurs the tools to succeed will help revive the northwest neighborhood,” City Manager James Slaton said. “Providing mentors and training for entrepreneurs is a key component of the City’s ‘Lake Wales Connected’ plan,” Slaton mentioned. $500,000 will be appropriated for the first-year of operation and $400,000 for the second year of operation. An additional $300,000 may be provided to FDC on the condition the two-year projected deliverables are accomplished. The funding will be dispensed on an annual basis. The CRA plans to fund the agreement with money from the American Rescue Plan. Part of the agreement includes FDC’s initial property investment of $240,000. FDC is a real estate development company. Its founders have more than 60 years of collective experience in affordable housing development, weatherization, financial, project management and community and economic development. ## Eric Marshall Marketing & Communications Specialist City of Lake Wales (863) 678-4182 Ext. 248 I "Making an I.M.P.A.C.T."

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