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Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Incubator to fuel business innovation

NEW PORT RICHEY — An incubator opening in May will hatch some innovative products and new companies, business leaders hope.

The SMARTStart Business Incubator will set up in the former post office building at 6347 Grand Blvd. The Pasco Economic Development Council will use the model from the first incubator, which opened last year in Dade City.

The incubator will occupy about two-thirds of the 9,000 square feet, and the New Port Richey Public Library will use the rest of the building for its makerspace program for innovative products.

May 1 remains the target opening date, according to Krista Covey, the PEDC SMARTStart business incubator program director. If renovations take a bit longer than expected, however, the opening could be postponed.

SMARTStart caters to self-employed people or home-business operators who want to take the next step to expand and hire staff.

Covey said she already has fielded calls from five industries curious about the New Port Richey incubator. Invitations have gone out to various industries in West Pasco, Covey said.

It’s still too early to talk about possible tenants at the New Port Richey incubator, Covey said. An advisory committee must vet potential clients and set up interviews.

“We’re creating about 27 jobs so far in Dade City,” Covey said about the twin incubator there. When goals are reached, the facility could have 60 additional workers.

“It’s quite a large space,” Covey said about the New Port Richey site, which has more than double the 2,400 square feet in Dade City.

Dade City tenants are “really across the board,” Covey said, from cleaning products to agriculture and scientific endeavors.

PEDC hasn’t established client fees for the New Port Richey incubator. A membership fee costs $85. Typically, on-site space is free the first six months and then $200 a month. After a year, the typical rent per month goes to $300.

The buzz of activity come May 1 will stand in stark contrast to the years the building has sat vacant.

The site was a post office through 1976 and later became Pasco Office Supply before First Baptist Church of New Port Richey bought it. In 2005, the city purchased the property.

The reincarnation of the building began last year during a community cleanup campaign on April 27. Some 40 volunteers spruced up the facility.

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