Whether it’s creating a business plan, marketing how-to’s or finding the right financial partner, many well-known and loved local businesses got their start with help from the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC). The 8,000-square-foot building, located in Ybor City, is a satellite home for over 90 nonprofit organizations, government agencies and educational institutions, all serving the entrepreneurial community.

For almost 10 years, Hillsborough County has been helping local entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses through the Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC). The ECC, located at 2101 E. Palm Ave. in Tampa, is managed by Lynn Kroesen, who has managed the center since its beginning. Prior to that, Kroesen was a business consultant with Hillsborough County’s Small Business Information Center.

Hillsborough County’s small businesses are the backbone of the community. They employ about half of the working residents in the county.

Kroesen explained the purpose of the ECC: “The purpose of the ECC is to grow local startups and small businesses, jobs and private investment in Hillsborough County through the strengthening of services and resources that directly support entrepreneurs. The objectives are to increase connections to high-quality mentors and support, enhance access to capital, facilitate collaboration among existing resources and be a clearinghouse for entrepreneurs.”

The ECC hosts daily programs and events. Through the programs and events, entrepreneurs have an opportunity to reach out to the experts on a regular basis. Most programs are open to the public and provide an open forum to collaborate. According to Kroesen, “Diverse programs are a priority.”

Kroesen added, “The ECC was established to provide entrepreneurs easy access to business service providers, resources, mentorship and specialty training. The ECC assists the entrepreneur in navigating the system by combining resources and leveraging expertise that already exists in the community. Through co-location of the county’s services and those of nonprofit service providers and professional organizations, customers have easy access to a wide knowledge base. The customer also becomes part of a larger entrepreneurial community that convenes at the ECC and can avail themselves of many different opportunities to make professional connections and creative collisions that can advance their business.”

Services offered by the ECC are provided for each business’ unique stage of development and business category, including pre-venture; startup; microenterprise; small-to-mid-size enterprise; community-based, targeted industry; technology; innovation; and more.

Kroesen explained, “The ECC partners with over 90 nonprofit, academic and government organizations, all with the same mission in mind: to grow and build our Hillsborough County entrepreneur ecosystem. In-house partners headquartered at the ECC include the Florida SBDC at Hillsborough County, Service Corp of Retired Executives (SCORE), Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship (JMI), Hillsborough Community College InLab, Action Zone, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council.”

Additional partners utilize the space for networking, programming, mentoring and consulting.

For more information, please visit www.hcfl.gov/eccevents.

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