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Collier County likely to take over business accelerators from nonprofit group

Posted at 6:41 PM, Apr 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-29 18:41:51-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — After raising concerns over management and spending, Collier County leaders want to see changes in who runs grant-funded business accelerators in Naples and Immokalee. The nonprofit group Economic Incubators, Inc., or EII, has run the accelerator programs for entrepreneurial businesses in Collier since 2014.

EII has relied heavily on government money - $2.4 million from the county, and another $2.3 million from state and federal grants. But the County Clerk's office has raised concerns about how that money has been spent. Last week, the Collier Board of Commissioners voted to have county staff work on a plan to remove EII from running the accelerators.

"From what I've been able to ascertain, they haven't been able to document the amount of employment that was theoretically put forth for that organization," said Commission Chair Bill McDaniel.

Richard Grant, Chair of the volunteer board that oversees EII, said he doesn't believe there was a target number of jobs that the accelerator was meant to help create.

"Businesses are in business to make money, and very few people guarantee results," Grant said.

County commissioners are expected to vote in May or June on whether or not to extend EII's contract to run the accelerators.

If they don't, Grant said that the nonprofit would cease to exist. The accelerators would likely be taken over by the county.