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.)
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.