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Pinellas Park opens business incubator
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Photo courtesy of Amanda Converse
Pinellas Park Office Suites is home of the city-run Professional Entrepreneurs of Pinellas Park program.
PINELLAS PARK – Even before the city began scooping up parcels along the ailing 5600 block of Park Boulevard over the past two years, the City Council eyed the area – which falls within the Community Redevelopment Area – as a potential small-business incubator.

The city held the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the Pinellas Park Office Suites, 5663 Park Blvd., which was formerly owned by the Suncoast Haven of Rest Rescue Mission, on March 14. These office suites are home to the Professional Entrepreneurs of Pinellas Park, a city-run business start-up program. Current members of the program are Orange Blossom Landscape and Design, Epiphany Tampa Bay Magazine, Apren2, Evans Computer Consulting, SLS Publications, Colleen McGann Massage Therapy, Simple with Style Events, aDMark Advertising Concepts, Jamiller Ellis Financial Education, and Optimus Prime 7 PC Repair.

Tenants of two two-story structures the city built in the nearby United Cottages area, on 75th Avenue North between 57th and 58th streets N., are also considered part of this PEPP program.

Offices are offered to these companies well below market rate – rents range between $100 and $175 in the PPOS, depending on the size, said Shannon Coughlin, the city’s community development analyst. Offices average at around 250 square feet, she added. The city also takes care of all utilities, and provides Wi-Fi and a cleaning service. Tenants have 24-hour access to the building.

“We’re hoping to help them grow,” Coughlin said. “We hope they continue to make progress and hopefully eventually move out into Pinellas Park and pay market rate rent.”

The city has teamed up with St. Petersburg College’s Seminole campus, which is known for its entrepreneurship program, for PEPP.

Nicolle Panuthos, the department chair of SPC’s Business & Entrepreneurship Program, will keep office hours in the suites twice a week and be available to tenants by appointment.

Panuthos will help provide the small businesses with everything they might need to grow, Coughlin said – education, consultation, networking ideas, growth management, interns.

“Whatever they need, Nicolle is there for them,” Coughlin said.

“SPC is committed to the Pinellas County business community and supporting education and development,” Panuthos said. “Partnering with the city of Pinellas Park has expanded opportunities for our graduates and for the city. We are here to promote success.”

The tenants also work together and meet monthly, with a representative from the city and Panuthos present.

“The idea is we have to assist each other’s businesses to grow,” said Tricia Wing, owner of Orange Blossom Landscape and Design. “It’s a very simple mission. Someone comes in and says, ‘I have this problem.’ And now you have six minds thinking about it.”

Prior to moving into the office suites, Wing said she operated primarily out of a spare bedroom in her home or even her truck. She’d have to cart around bulky books of samples. Plus, having an actual office offers her more credibility.

“Now customers can feel confident coming to me,” she said.

The city is currently renovating the second building in that strip formerly owned by the rescue mission, 5625 Park Blvd. Coughlin said once the work on this is complete, though there’s no timeline in place, it also will be used as part of the business incubator program. She said they’re already in talks with one potential tenant, a bakery called The Complete Sweet Shop.
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