Cathie Wood, local leaders celebrate Innovation Center groundbreaking • St Pete Catalyst

ARK Invest CEO Katie Wood and local executives are fully investing in helping St. Pete become a leader in innovation.

Wood, St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, Pinelos County Economic Development Director Cynthia Johnson, other city officials and Innovation District leaders on Tuesday buried their silver shovels in the ground on a 2.5-hectare site in St. Petersburg, starting construction. for the new ARK Innovation Center.

The ARK Innovation Center, formerly known as the Tampa Bay Innovation Center, will help entrepreneurs and increase the activity of startups in the region by providing space for programming and coworking. The 45,000-square-foot center will be the first of its kind in Pinelos County; it is to be built on city-donated land on 4th Street and 11th Avenue South.

Visualization of the Tampa Bay Innovation Center at 4th Street South and 11th Avenue South. Renders: Tampa Bay Innovation Center

“Our city has become an incubation center for new businesses, technologies and startups,” said Dr. [Cynthia] Johnson puts it this way – an innovation ecosystem, ”Welch said.

The center is expected to open in 2023. It will have 30,000 square feet of ground floor for incubator companies and another floor for ARK Invest, the anchor tenant.

“I think St. Petersburg understands the promises of new and evolving technologies better than Silicon Valley,” Wood said during the event. “I have a feeling that St. Pete is ready to catch this ball because you are hungry. Among other cities, we chose St. Pete because we saw a pioneering spirit. There’s DNA innovation, I don’t know how you got it, but it’s here and we know it. ”

ARK Invest CEO Katie Wood (center) and ARK team members are involved in the ceremonial throwing of the dirt.

Wood said she was unfamiliar with the Tampa Bay Innovation Center project when she decided to relocate ARK Invest headquarters from New York to St. Pete in 2021, but soon her team began talking to TBIC CEO and President Tony Elmar.

Wood paid $ 2 million for the rights to the name of the center and for serving as an anchor tenant. The entire project costs more than $ 15.8 million.

After the opening, the first floor will be dedicated to incubator companies and the second floor will be dedicated to ARK Invest.

Wood went on to say that innovation in the public equity market is currently valued at $ 10 trillion and is projected to grow even higher.

“I see openness to this idea of ​​convergence, not silage, but joint work – we are talking about public-private partnership. This type of collaboration will be absolutely necessary to make money on these major platforms, ”she said, citing the example of genomic sequencing and how it is revolutionizing the space of medical technology.

“We look forward to helping you bring companies here and share our research,” she said. “I have a strong feeling that St. Pete will be a beacon of innovation.”

The ARK Innovation Center will focus on servicing the target industries of St. Pete: technology, advanced manufacturing, medical devices and IT.

During a recent public meeting, officials said offices at the center would be sold at Class A rates; however, there may be potential for subsidies, and entrepreneurs can still attend programs without having to rent space.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration has committed to allocating most of the funds to the center.

Welch said the center will bring an economic effect of $ 28 million from the 1,265 direct and indirect jobs it will create. In addition, graduates of the Innovation Center and its clients will create an annual economic impact of $ 127 million.

The new Innovation Center is part of an increasingly innovative innovation district – and recent victories, which Welch described in detail, such as the opening of the Maritime Defense and Technology Center.

The hub – the first-ever center of its kind in Tampa Bay – began accepting tenants in late 2021 inside the former SRI International building. The facility was created to have space for companies looking for a place on the waterfront to deploy ships, and a hyperprotected site for top-secret operations.

Welch also highlighted how the University of South Florida will launch a new Center of Excellence in Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences on the St. Petersburg campus that will make St. Pete a leader in sustainability and coastal resilience.

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