New Port Richey business incubator lands $50K scholarship

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 9:42 AM EDT

New Port Richey's SMARTstart Business Incubator has received a $50,000 scholarship from the Florida High Tech Corridor Council and the University of South Florida.

Randy Berridge, president of the FHTCC, surprised a crowd at the grand opening of SMARTstart, with the funding announcement.

“The Florida High Tech Corridor Council and USF support numerous initiatives that support small and growing companies, and the SMARTstart program is a terrific program that is already beginning to show successful results,” Berridge said. “We are glad to help foster the entrepreneurial activity in Pasco County.”

This is the FHTCC and USF’s second sponsorship for the Pasco Economic Development Council’s SMARTstart program. Last July, the FHTCC and USF helped launch Pasco's first SMARTstart business incubator in Dade City with a $50,000 scholarship.

The Pasco EDC aims to work with new entrepreneurs and scalable start-up companies in the incubators and help them build their businesses from the ground up.

According to the Small Business Administration, only 20 percent of new businesses are still in operation after the first five years. But a U.S. Economic Development Administration-funded study says 87 percent of businesses graduating from an incubator remain in business after five years.

The SMARTstart program has helped create 42 jobs and more are projected. SMARTstart also holds several free entrepreneur workshops and classes, monthly roundtable discussions for startups, and networking events such as Wired Wednesdays. Startups in Pasco County can visit www.smartstartpasco.com for more information or contact Krista Covey at kcovey@pascoedc.com.