MILTON — Graduate students from Florida State University will spend the next two months working on an incubator study for Northwest Florida with an emphasis on Santa Rosa County. The results will show what opportunities exist for a business incubator in the county. 

"A business incubator is a multi tenant facility where companies will work independently to grow. This facility would also house the small business development center and mentors that would help these companies grow," Santa Rosa County Economic Development Director Shannon Ogletree said. "It’s a place where new small businesses can have office space and be provided mentorship to help them grow."

"These graduate students in the masters in applied economics program at FSU are learning about economic development and how to diversify local economies," said Dr. Jerry Parrish, adjunct at FSU and chief economist of the Florida Chamber Foundation. "The program is ranked in the top five in the U.S. and these students will provide a detailed look at what type of incubator would be the right match for the area." 

Students will consider existing startup companies and other factors in determining whether a business incubator is needed in the area. Prospective sites will be suggested based on drive times and patterns, as well as available property. Business incubators typically contain multiple office spaces and shared conference rooms. 

"This idea came about while working with Gulf Power - we pitched an idea of having an incubator study to see if there was need for a space in Santa Rosa County. A business incubator will allow small business owners to come to one location - it will get them beyond their garage and give them an office setting to have client visits, collaborate with other small business owners and bounce ideas off of each other," Ogletree said. "Having this space will help encourage more startups and allow us to further assist small businesses in the county."

For more information contact Dr. Jerry Parrish at the Florida Chamber Foundation, jparrish@flfoundation.org.