|Pasco County, Florida — Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc. received a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award for its 2012 project in the category of “Entrepreneurship for communities with populations of 200,000 – 500,000” from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).
The honor was presented at an awards ceremony on Tuesday, October 8, during the IEDC Annual Conference in Philadelphia.
“The Excellence in Economic Development Award recognizes Pasco Economic Development Council as being one of the leading organizations in the industry for innovation, creativity and successful strategies,” said IEDC chair, Paul Krutko. “These awards are meant to honor the organizations and individuals who are dedicated to making a positive change in their communities. This organization uses creative solutions and inventive ideas, and offers other regions a wonderful example to learn and benefit from. The award represents an acknowledgment and appreciation for Pasco Economic Development Council’s dedication to continuous growth within itself, as well as improving the industry overall.”
The most prestigious recognition for Pasco EDC in its 27-year history, the IEDC Gold Award is the sixth state or national level accolade for the organization in the last three years.
The Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc. established an unconventional, collaborative entrepreneurship program called the Pasco Enterprise Network (PEN), which led to the creation of a microloan fund for entrepreneurs and the launch of a new “SMARTstart” business incubator. By engaging community partners to make start-up and small business resources available through a “No Wrong Door” strategy, the Pasco Enterprise Network had a huge impact on the generation of entrepreneurial leads and economic development growth in the community of Pasco County.
PEN is a partnership of local agencies in Pasco County that help connect small businesses to free resources through its website www.pascoenterprise.net, which helps them navigate the steps involved in starting and running a small business. PEN’s primary partner organizations include:
· Central Pasco Chamber of Commerce
· Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce
· Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce
· New Port Richey Public Library
· Pasco County Library System
· Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc.
· Pasco Hernando Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
· Pasco-Hernando Community College
· Pasco Hernando Workforce Board
· Saint Leo University
· Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)
· Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
· West Pasco Chamber of Commerce
· Zephyrhills Chamber of Commerce
· Zephyrhills Public Library
“A large percentage of Pasco County’s economy is supported by small businesses,” said John Hagen, President/CEO of the Pasco Economic Development Council. “For small business owners and entrepreneurs who need help, and don’t know where to turn, the PEN web site connects business owners to free services that can improve their chances of success.”
The Pasco Microloan Fund is a success story in its own right. Funded by a consortium made up of Pasco EDC, Pasco County, Wells Fargo Bank, Saint Leo University, Bank of America, CenterState Bank, Suncoast Schools Credit Union, local entrepreneur Tim Tangredi, and Dale Hawker, owner of Rubber Resources, the program has a pool of over $320,000 and has made nine loans to date. All the loans are current and one was paid off early as the company expanded with conventional bank financing.
Pasco EDC recently worked collaboratively to launch the SMARTstart Dade City Incubator, the County’s first business incubator. The incubator partners include the City of Dade City, Dade City Business Center, Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce, Florida High Tech Corridor Council, Saint Leo University, SBDC, SCORE, and USF Connect.
The SMARTstart Dade City Incubator is an innovative facility-based program to engage entrepreneurs, grow new businesses and create job opportunities in Pasco County. Start-up companies can obtain inexpensive space and technical assistance to ramp up their business. The incubator provides direct opportunities for local business professionals, students and higher education faculty to work with and support entrepreneurs, as well as co-working space for collaboration.
“We know that a successful economy depends on small businesses and the support of entrepreneurship,” noted Hagen. “Working together as a support network, entrepreneurs will be more likely to succeed. Add to that the financial resource of the microloan fund, networking events, a business incubator to house startups, and a program for companies in their second stage of growth, and the entrepreneur in Pasco County has a solid foundation of resources at his or her fingertips.”
IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognizes the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and most influential leaders. These awards honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities.
The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions.www.iedconline.org