LAKELAND, Fla. — A new business incubator is being built in one of Lakeland's most underserved communities.
The vision of Dr. Sallie Stone is beginning to become a reality. Construction of her concept for a business resource center called The Well is now underway.
“If you think back in ancient times the well in the center of a community was a sign of a healthy community. And when people gathered at the well, they gathered to do business they gathered to network,” said Dr. Sallie Stone, founder and CEO of The Well.
Located in Lakeland's underserved midtown neighborhood, The Well will help residents start or grow their business, with an emphasis on businesses owned by people of color, women and veterans.
“Provides training and professional development, seminars and workshops, but is intentionally focused on the under-served and underrepresented populations that many times are marginalized or may not have access to resources,” Stone said.
The business center will offer a co-working space, media room, podcast and music studios. Several entrepreneurs have already begun signing up to use the workspace.
“This location is so wonderful. It’s centrally located and it’s a place where other people with like minds will come and we can collaborate,” said Susan Freebern, small business owner.
The Well is also partnering with Florida Polytechnic University’s entrepreneurship program.
“Internships both with The Well itself and with some of the companies that will occupy space at The Well. And then hopefully there will be opportunities for jobs,” said Rick Maxey, Assistant Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Florida Polytechnic University.
The Lakeland Community Redevelopment Agency is funding the $1.3 million project, as part of the organization's goal of redeveloping districts to improve the quality of life for residents.
The Well is scheduled to open in early 2022.