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Domi Station Seeks $25,000 From City of Tallahassee to Help Fund Start-Up Businesses

Posted on March 20, 2016

Domi Station Seeks $25,000 From City of Tallahassee to Help Fund Start-Up Businesses

DOMI Ventures LLC, which  is the owner of  DOMI Station, a local business incubator, is seeking $25,000 from the City of Tallahassee to sponsor start-up businesses.

The issue is scheduled to be voted on at the next City Commission meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, March 23, 2016.

Based on the documents provided, the start-up businesses to be funded have yet to be identified and the City of Tallahassee will not receive an equity stake in any of the businesses.

DOMI station is a business incubator with a mission to support and nurture entrepreneurs to help diversify and expand the local economy and to provide a venue to retain local talent.

In May 2014, the  Leon County Commission allocated $250,000 to renovate a building off of Gaines Street which became the home for DOMI Station. The county retained ownership of the building and is leasing space to DOMI Ventures.

DOMI Station offers a  “Get Started” program. The “Get Started” program is a four month business development and support program which allows entrepreneurs to develop and implement their business plan.  Tuition for the program is $5,000 per participant and DOMI Ventures has asked the City to support five participants.

Business incubators have become the economic development focus of state and local governments across the country.

Incubators are typically partnerships sponsored by pro-business organizations, such as local colleges and universities, county governments and municipalities, economic development organizations and for-profit ventures.

For example, the Orange County Commission, located in Central Florida, recently  agreed to provide seed funding of $100,000 to a business incubator.

Over the past five years there has been a renaissance of business incubators, with new models emerging all over the world to serve the unique needs of entrepreneurs.

Despite this renaissance, there are questions about the effectiveness of business incubators. For example,  an article by a group focused on entrepreneurship research raises questions about the success of incubators. The article can be reviewed here (note the comments at the end of the article.)

Other articles about the successes and failures of business incubators can be found in the New York Times and Forbes magazine.

Based on its 2015 annual report, DOMI Station supported start-up businesses which generated $2.9 million in revenue and created 30 full-time jobs with average salaries of $40,000. The names of the start-up business that created these jobs were not provided in the public documents provided by City staff.

You can review more information about the 2015 activities of DOMI Station here.

15 Responses to Domi Station Seeks $25,000 From City of Tallahassee to Help Fund Start-Up Businesses

  1. Christine Urban Reply

    March 20, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Would be happy to talk to you more about business incubation, articles that prove the economic impact, as well as why we can’t really release private data that our numbers are based on.

  2. BOB Reply

    March 20, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    Two points:

    Ms. Urban, I am not sure what your affiliation is with this pending deal or with DOMI Ventures LLC. I must make the assumption you have some link. With that in mind, remember public funds do *not* come untethered. Any business, or sub-entity receiving those funds becomes open to public inspection under Sunshine. Suggesting you have private, or proprietary data that you intend to keep out of the public domain mean you will probably need to withdraw your application for funds. As it stands now, the money granted for building renovation already opens your Financials to public scrutiny and inspection.

    Second, if these funds are collateralized in some way, I have no problem extending a loan. If the will of the commission is to release these public funds without collateral, then the project must be subject to strict oversight and fiscal accounting.

    • Jane Reply

      March 21, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Rules only apply to a certain few. How are those FOIA requests going for the people? You would have to sue to enforce the Sunshine Laws, something relatively few Floridians can afford, and politicians certainly don’t advocate on behalf of their constituents. Sorry to be so cynical. But also, consider people like Bill Gates who was turned down by IBM, if an entrepreneur wants to make it happen, it WILL happen, regardless of start up funding. We were offered “free” government money for our business, but opted for autonomy instead. As I often say, if it’s free, it ain’t worth having. Anyway, the entire $25k wouldn’t open the doors of a retail establishment long enough to establish a client base. The $25k is most likely to get a foot in the door to extract larger sums in the future. We have overfunded our government.

  3. Diana Steinberg Reply

    March 20, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    More redistribution of money.

  4. Terry Ryan Reply

    March 21, 2016 at 11:24 am

    As I started my own company in the early 90’s, I worked with the local SBA and Chamber in assisting new entrepreneur’s develop their business and marketing plans and link with key resources (bookkeeper, legal, regulatory, marketing, etc.).

    I had pushed for an incubator concept having seen a great one up in Americus, GA tied in with the SBA providing basic essentials for start-ups: small office space, receptionist, mail, copy, phones, & viable mailing address. Unfortunately, I was way ahead of the acceptance of this in Tallahassee.

    The thought of the entrepreneur not being able to pay for basic training assistance mentioned above, sends chills through me since it indicates they would not have any “skin in the game” to fund other expenses over at least a 6 month period.

    Thus, any thought of the City providing this $5,000 in training funds is ludicrous and a very high probability it will be at a loss to tax payers.

  5. jon Reply

    March 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Id like to hear more about this lease. Did they bid? Why is the city acting as a landlord?

  6. Jake Kiker Reply

    March 21, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I’ve been a long-time follower of TR, but this is the first time that something that I’m associated with actually popped-up in the news feed 😉

    In any event, I’m one of the founders of Domi Station, so I wanted to personally let you know that if anyone has any questions, concerns, etc., about the facility, its operations, or you want to get involved (especially those of you like Mr. Ryan that sound like you have experience in building your own businesses), then by all means please don’t hesitate to reach out directly and let me know (I’m always looking to meet new people over coffee, and I think you will find that we’re incredibly transparent, and always have been). I recall giving Mr. Stewart a quick tour of Domi Station and discussing some of these topics after we first opened, but I would be happy to bring anyone else that is interested up to speed on how things have been going since that time (my good friend Mike Hines, who is also TR regular, and I have had occasion to discuss Domi and our goals/vision as well- he had some great input).

    In any event, thank you all for your interest, and for TR’s focus on our taxpayer $$’s and accountability across the community.

  7. Pat Reply

    March 22, 2016 at 10:19 am

    A business whose business is nickel and diming local government for money, only to then reappropriate the public money to businesses of their choosing. Then charge a fee of $5K…for connecting government money (lobbying) to a private business?

    The recent shift towards masking these quasi-governmental agencies to play the part of local government, but without the same scrutiny to ensure public money is used appropriately, is troubling at best.

    So if you aren’t in the clique and good graces of these domi folks, is it making it more difficult to start your small business? Therefore, instead of promoting small business, this domi lobbying charade actually hinders, as the path of the righteous must go through this quasi governmental agency to ensure the powers at the city approve?

    I feel dirty and slimy just writing that, cant imagine having a vested interest intent on actually profiting off that model.

    • Jake Kiker Reply

      March 22, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Wow– there’s a lot to process in that post, Pat. You’ve obviously made lots of assumptions and, unfortunately, all of them are incorrect.

      Nevertheless, if you ever have any desire to actually learn/hear about what we really do at Domi Station, by all means please feel free to let me know and we can go grab a cup of coffee (on me). You can reach me at jkiker@domistation.com.

      Thanks,
      JEK

  8. Pat Reply

    March 22, 2016 at 9:20 pm

    So what exactly are the plans for the 25K in taxpayer dollars?

  9. Ben Reply

    March 22, 2016 at 10:41 pm

    Cut taxes and make city and county government smaller. Stop picking “winners” and give everyone a boost by lowering taxes and fees. Not only will you retain talent you will attract it. Sounds like the 25k will go to entrepreneurs that cannot afford the tuition. No skin in the game! Does the incubator have a diversity quota as well?

  10. Pat Reply

    March 23, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Exactly. Presumably the 25k will go to businesses of domnis choosing, essentially playing favorites based on their assessment of who is most “deserving”. For all we know, some of those deserving businesses maybe funded by domi, friends of domi, or even worse, friends or campaign managers of city officials (see Adam Corey’s lined pockets courtesy of Gillium).

    Is that incorrect Jake? Does domi dictate who gets taxpayer money, or does the city control who gets the cash?

    • Jake Kiker Reply

      March 23, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Yes, Pat, you are (once again), incorrect. You’ve now insulted me, and the people at Domi Station (who work hard everyday to diversify and grow our economy, and make Tallahassee a better place for all of us) for a second time (although, there are multiple offensive statements in each of your posts, but we’ll just leave it at that).

      I nevertheless responded, extended courtesy (personal and professional) and even invited you to learn more. However, you clearly seem more than content (and would apparently prefer) to haphazardly come up with your own conspiracy theories, etc. I have no time for such, nor is the same even worthy of further response.

      This will be my last post on the thread, and I wish you all the best in whatever it is that you do.

      Regards,
      JEK

  11. Ben Reply

    March 23, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Jake, question why does FSU pay 100k and get 18 slots and FAMU pay 25k and get 12 slots? There is an inequity there. Please explain. Also, without being offended first why does your organization need 25k? Also, what strings are attached to the 25k? Is there a diversity quota? By trying to correct what some view as inequalities unfortunately just create more.

  12. Pat Reply

    March 23, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Twice refusing to answer a basic question of who ultimately determines where the 25K in taxpayers dollars is spent, Jake. But instead, manufacturing a narrative that someone has hurt your feelings; an insult which is apparently so egregious it supercedes your ability to actually engage in reasonable questions about a business which is asking for public money.

    Thank you for exposing a little more about domi, confirming suspicions of potentially nefarious dealings.

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