Pinellas County, Florida Celebrates Ribbon Cutting of the ARK Innovation Center Business Incubator

19 Dec, 2023

Pinellas County, Florida – The Pinellas County Commission on Dec. 18, held a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of the ARK Innovation Center, a new 45,000-square-foot business incubator located at 1101 4th St S. in St. Petersburg. The new facility is operated by the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, a tech incubator and accelerator with a well-respected team of board members, advisors, and mentors and a track record of helping tech start-ups grow. After the ceremony, attendees were invited to explore the facility’s collaborative workspaces, offices, and event space before tenants settle in over the next few weeks.

“Thanks to the collective leadership and vision of the partners involved in this project, the new ARK Innovation Center business incubator will become a place where start-up founders can connect with mentors to make big ideas come to life, to bring innovation and technology to fruition, and to remove barriers to entrepreneurship,” said Janet C. Long, Chair of the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners.

Pinellas County in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the City of St. Petersburg, the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, and ARK Invest, designed, constructed, and equipped the new facility. The County provided a local match to the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s grant award of approximately $11.3 million for the project design and construction costs supported by the Penny for Pinellas. The City of St. Petersburg donated 2.5 acres of land within its Innovation District to bring the project together. Overall, the incubator’s total cost was approximately $16 million.

The new building is in St. Petersburg’s Innovation District, a collaborative community near the city’s downtown that fosters growth, learning and inspiration with a focus on entrepreneurship, education, technology, life science and other industries. Boasting a strong entrepreneurial culture, the area has drawn support and investment from various corporate and community champions, including Cathie Wood, CEO of ARK Invest, who is a board member of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center and a major supporter.

St. Petersburg Mayor Kenneth T. Welch explained the importance of the new center, “Together we’ve embarked on a journey that will transform our entrepreneurial ecosystem. St. Pete has long been a haven for visionaries, innovators, and creators. The ARK Innovation Center stands as a symbol of our commitment to nurturing and showcasing the incredible talent that is in our community. By focusing on innovation and economic opportunity and developing partnerships with the private sector and our county and federal partners, we are moving St. Pete forward. This is what inclusive progress looks like in the Sunshine City.”

ARK Invest’s collaboration with the new incubator will allow the Tampa Bay Innovation Center to focus on growing early-stage companies that are advancing disruptive technologies in the areas of Internet of Things (IoT), Energy, FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain.

“We will host a variety of tech entrepreneurs, from students to scientists, who are working on innovative projects. Our expertise, programs and opportunities will create a vibrant and enthusiastic atmosphere for the tech startup ecosystem,” stated Tonya Elmore, President & CEO of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center. Elmore added that companies must be building a scalable tech business to take part in the programming and occupy offices onsite.

The ceremonial ribbon cutting was attended by U.S. Representative Kathy Castor (FL-14), the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners, County Administrator Barry Burton, Pinellas County Economic Development and other County staff. Mayor Kenneth T. Welch of St. Petersburg and the St. Petersburg City Council, city staff, local business leaders from the Tampa Bay region, Cathie Wood and ARK Invest staff also participated in the event.

Remarked Dr. Cynthia Johnson, Director of Pinellas County Economic Development, “Pinellas County Economic Development supports the communities of Pinellas by advancing our global competitiveness for investment and growth.  As we strive to create a more resilient community, we have collaborated with key partners to create a destination for innovation.  Collectively, we’ve built an ecosystem for small business and entrepreneurial development, and we believe this facility will be a game changer for excelling in innovation.”