When the Gulf Coast Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship first opened its doors to startup businesses in 2008, the Quality of Life Survey funded by Quint and Rishy Studer revealed that 65 percent of Escambia County residents had an overall negative perception of our area as a good place for entrepreneurs. We have come so far since then.
Despite incredible hardships for businesses worldwide, the 2020 survey shows nearly half of our residents consider Escambia County an excellent or good place to start a business. The CIE—rebranded as CO:LAB in 2017—has been proud to be a part of the significant progress our county has seen over the past dozen years, and we are readying to be even busier in the new decade.
Damaged by Hurricane Sally last September, the CO:LAB space at 418 West Garden Street is undergoing an extensive renovation, due for completion early this year. This fresh start is an excellent opportunity to provide an even better and more welcoming space for entrepreneurs to thrive. In anticipation of its reopening, CO:LAB has refreshed its website colabpensacola.com to be more intuitive for our entrepreneurs and easier to navigate.
The downtown business incubator is a project of FloridaWest Economic Development Alliance in partnership with Pensacola State College, funded by Escambia County and the City of Pensacola. CO:LAB was created to help early-stage, high-growth companies become more successful by providing affordable, private office space, mentors, business services and the very unique opportunities that occur in a creative environment with other innovative minds. Thanks to our partners at Pensacola State College, CO:LAB has 22,500 sq. ft., of space on three floors – enough space for businesses to grow.
Our goal is to develop companies that will employ more people from our area, build prosperity for families and improve our community’s quality of life. CO:LAB companies are unique in that they all are high-tech, high-yielding ventures that create goods and services that are sold outside of the region and bring wealth to Escambia County.
We encourage entrepreneurs to browse colabpensacola.com and let us know what we can do to help you. Our doors will be open soon, and our cellphones are always with us.