New Business Incubator, Event Space Eyed For South City Through $750K CRA Grant
Tallahassee’s Community Redevelopment Agency board will consider a grant proposal Wednesday to turn unused shopping space into an event center and business incubator.
The $750,000 grant request comes from Loved By Jesus Family Church, a nonprofit created by former Tallahassee mayor Dot Inman-Johnson and her husband.
With the money, the nonprofit would lease and renovate a 25,000 square foot space in the Town South Shopping Center on South Monroe Street.
The plan is to include a catering kitchen and recording studio for job training.
“All of those options would be available for training,” Inman-Johnson told WFSU Monday, ahead of the project going before a CRA advisory committee. “We would also have vocational courses like electrical helpers, assistants or apprentice, HVAC, plumbing, several trade jobs.”
The facility would also include ballrooms and office space for rent, which Inman-Johnson hopes would make it profitable after the first year. She says the project is aimed at increasing private sector investment and creating jobs on Tallahassee’s Southside.
Inman-Johnson says she’s had the idea for a business incubator on the Southside for years, after working with people in the area.
“In the South City community, we have grants that provide an after school program in the Orange Avenue subsidized housing development – a summer camp,” she said. “And that helped us to get to know firsthand the conditions and the situations of the folks who live in that area, and the big missing piece was jobs.”
Renovation of the building could take six months to a year, if the application is approved by the CRA. For now, Inman-Johnson says her organization isn’t asking for any operational costs for the project.
“We are not asking for operational money for the Center, we will be looking for operations through the fees that come out of the center, the rental space for the events and all of the other activities that will be going on in the Center,” Inman-Johnson said.
Inman-Johnson says she’ll also be seeking out federal grants to help support the facility, if it comes to fruition.