IBDC now in new headquarters on Hodges University campus

The Immokalee Business Development Center (IBDC) has relocated to its new headquarters on the Immokalee campus of Hodges University, 1170 Harvest Drive

The center, sometimes also known as IMMBIZ, is in the process of becoming its own non-profit organization, graduating from the nurturing nest of the Immokalee Community Redevelopment Agency. 

The IBDC has guided the creation or expansion of over a dozen Immokalee businesses in the past two years. Collier County Commissioners, sitting as the Immokalee CRA board of directors, approved independence for the center in January. The lawmakers approved May 28 its formal plan strike out on its own.

"Because we will be an independent organization, we can expand to regional efforts," explained Marie Capita, an Immokalee attorney and manager of the IBDC. "Being non-profit – and not a governmental organization- opens up all new ways to raise money for our work through grant opportunities from private sources."

Banks and other entrepreneurial organizations have been anxious to partner with the business development center but government restrictions sometimes inhibit their full participation.

With its new organizational structure and independence, the IBDC will be even more capable to helping budding entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of business ownership. 

The IBDC business assistance program is the lifeline of the center. 

Members are enrolled in a two year program which begins with a six-week Entrepreneur School, builds through creation of a business plan with clear milestones and is monitored one-on-one until graduation at the end of the two year program.

Members are provided assistance with the full spectrum of business support from budgeting, bookkeeping to marketing.
To help new businesses the IBDC, created the IBDC MicroEnterprise Loan Fund in partnership with Florida Community Bank and One by One Leadership.

The IBDC has also become Immokalee entrepreneurs’ link to assistance for small business provided by the U.S. government. Three businesses were qualified this year alone for U.S. Department of Labor Section 3 Certification, which provides additional benefits to businesses owned by Americans from traditionally disadvantaged circumstances and backgrounds.

Partnerships now exist with SCORE, FGCU Florida Small Business Development Center, iTECH, Florida Community Bank. SunCoast Teachers Credit Union, BB&T Bank, One on One Leadership, US SBA, Ave Maria University, RCMA, and the Immokalee Chamber of Commerce. 

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