The Union Recorder

January 8, 2013

Breakfast sparks ideas for local business growth

From staff reports
The Union-Recorder


Baldwin County’s economic development future relies heavily on how well local leaders speak with a singular voice, a Florida economic development official told local leaders early Tuesday. 

Georgia College President Dr. Steve Dorman brought former colleague Dr. Ed Poppell, who served as vice president for Business Affairs and Economic Development for the University of Florida and now holds the same position for a successful Innovation Square in Gainesville, Fla., to engage community education, government and economic leaders about stimulating local business vitality.

Dorman said conversations to help the economy in Milledgeville and Baldwin County are more than necessary. Leveraging bright minds of local students could become a large part of the area's new direction.

Poppell detailed how a collaborative relationship between UF and downtown Gainesville spawned an Innovation Square serving as a catalyst for startup companies whose ideas where generated at the university.

The Florida Innovation Square vice president said a joint city and county strategy establishes a singular voice. Identifying local, regional and state stakeholders allowed economic development down south. There is no reason why a similar outline can't be adapted in this case, according to both Dorman and Poppell.

“Once you have success, everybody takes ownership. Ownership comes from participation,” Poppell said. “Don't do it alone.”

CSHLRA representative David Sinclair asked for suggestions regarding how to raise funds from private individuals, local businesses and banks to show state and federal bodies proposed redevelopment ideas can be more than conceptual.

“I don't see much happening unless there is a commitment from the community itself in terms or partnering with federal and state agencies,” Sinclair said.

Poppell believes in the business incubation model where participants must meet critical criteria. Fifty percent of profits are reinvented into the Gainesville community.

“You don't need a research school to build an incubator,” Poppell said. “Grow your own.”