Entrepreneurial

Reamonn Soto, center, Entrepreneur of the Year, is flanked by Florida Secretary of Commerce Jamal Sowell, left, Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower, Incubation Site Manager Connie Garzon, DBIA Director Cyrus Callum and Incubator Program Director Carol Ann Logue.

The Volusia County Business Incubator powered by the UCF Business Incubation Program hosted a live event July 26, celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

The partnership between Volusia and UCF is a key, said Florida Secretary of Commerce Jamal Sowell.

“Our state is an innovative state,” Secretary Sowell said. “We’re a state where these types of partnerships are really the key to success. When you look at Florida history, you know that Volusia County has a special place. The growth here is phenomenal.”

Over the past 10 years, the incubator and its clients have created nearly 1,000 full-time, high-wage jobs, assisted more than 100 companies during their early stage of growth, provided more than 8,000 hours of coaching for locally owned businesses, conducted more than 1,500 training sessions and provided a return on investment of $8.35 for every $1 of public investment.

Over the past 16 months, since UCF enacted its Covid-19 protocols, only one client left the incubator. In just the past few months, six companies have started the pre-incubation process to join the incubator.

All 14 client companies are back to in-person operations, with many of them adding employees and signing large contracts.

“I’m standing in the midst of a bunch of entrepreneur heroes” Volusia County Chair Jeff Brower said. “You’re that unique individual that has a capacity and a desire to create. What most people don’t know is the process of creation doesn’t happen overnight. We need creative people in Volusia County and you’re it. The market changes all the time and so you have to be adept at seeing that change and forecasting it and be able to walk that way. It’s not easy. You have an insight, a gift, that most people don’t have, and you have it.”

Among the incubator clients, TechFit Digital Surgery just received Food & Drug Administration approval. Rubicon Technical Services entered into a partnership with the national cloud services firm Box.

Also at the celebration, Sensatek Propulsion Technology’s CEO Reamonn Soto was named Entrepreneur of the Year. Sensatek develops and manufactures wireless, high-temperature, gas turbine sensors to measure heat transfer data for customers in several industries, such as energy, aviation, and aerospace.

Also recognized were Cinda Bennett, president of Odor Control Products and Equipment, who was named Graduate of the Year, and Lou Paris, director of the Entrepreneurship Program at Stetson University, who was named Ambassador of the Year.

With seven facilities throughout the region, the UCF Business Incubation Program is an economic development partnership between the school and the counties of Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Volusia, and the cities of Kissimmee, Orlando and Winter Springs.

It provides early-stage companies with the tools, training and infrastructure to become financially stable, high growth/impact enterprises.

Frank Bruno, who was Volusia County Chair when the incubator opened, said, “We started a lot of great businesses here in Volusia County. This is where businesses, as the sign says out front, are born in Volusia County and then grow. And that’s what we need more of in the community.”

For more information, visit incubator.ucf.edu or call (386) 872-3100 or email connie.garzon@ucf.edu.

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