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Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) has opened the doors to its new Emergent Technologies Institute (ETI). Built within the Innovation Hub research park off Alico Road in Fort Myers, this 24,000 square foot facility is home to 6.5 acres of donated land. Two and a half of those acres are comprised of a solar energy park. The purpose of the ETI is to become a southwest Florida incubator for the creation and advancement of new technology.
One of the many initiatives of the ETI is a workforce development plan that will train solar installers. However, the expanded educational opportunities also diversifies the pool of future employees entering the local southwest Florida workforce.
“The Emergent Technologies Institute expands FGCU’s comprehensive offerings,” Full-Time Director of Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance Eric Berglund said. “It’s a major selling point for business relocation.”
The Emergent Technologies Institute alone will create 215 jobs; a number that will only be expanded by the Innovation Hub, which will bring more than 1,000 jobs to Lee County over the next 10 years. Research collaborations held at the institute will lead to grant acquisition, research and development opportunities, patents and the commercialization of new intellectual property. An incubator for new technology, it will attract visitors from all over the world as students and staff demonstrate emerging technologies and their benefits via the institute’s “Techno Park.” Specifically dedicated to the demonstration of emerging technologies and the benefits they offer, this park will be open to visitors across the US and beyond.
Last month the News-Press described Berglund as a “bright spot” in Southwest Florida’s economic development, stating, “Eric Berglund is doing a great job, many of his peers say, as the first full-time director of the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance, a position he has held since last March at the regional entity started in August 2013.”
Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance held its annual meeting on February 17 at Finemark Bank in Fort Myers. The meeting hailed 2015 as a successful year for SWFLEDA, and the region. Last year brought a lot of exposure to southwest Florida, attracting new businesses.
Berglund attributed part of the success to two specific things: internet marketing (including the growth of social media presence) and actively engaging with targeted trade shows, which allowed him to build relationships with site selectors. He anticipates that 2016 will further expand SWFLEDA’s impact through new partnerships, more internet marketing and exhibiting at various trade events