1909 Offers One Stop Shop For Entrepreneurs

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Staff report

With a goal of providing all the tools that burgeoning, local entrepreneurs may need to succeed, 1909 recently launched with an affordable membership platform.

The idea is the brainchild of Palm Beach Tech Association and its executive founder Joe Russo, the program is a joint effort between Palm Beach Tech and Florida Atlantic University’s Adams Center for Entrepreneurship.

“The key is being able to provide this service to everybody,” Russo said. “We want to see more businesses and people starting businesses in their cities.”

Russo said the roll out has been underway for the past year. The name 1909 is a nod to the year that Palm Beach County was founded.

“Palm Beach County was founded in the year 1909, and we believe that right now everyone can be the founder of something great,” Russo said. “We seek to answer one simple question; Where do entrepreneurs in Palm Beach County go?”

1909 is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting start ups and small businesses based in Palm Beach County. 1909 will focus on bridging four gaps to entrepreneurship in Palm Beach County, as identified by the Business Development Board’s Entrepreneur Taskforce; affordable workspace, consistent mentorship, business education and access to capital.

“The vitality of a community’s economy directly correlates to its support of entrepreneur activity and the organizations which close the gaps within the ecosystem,” said Shereena Coleman, Vice President of Business Facilitation at the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County.

With a financial backing from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and cities including Delray Beach, the program recently launched with $350,000 of funding.

“We’re excited to bring together entrepreneurs, business leaders, and governments in building a more informed and engaged, thriving community,” said Lily Weinberg, Program Director for Community & National Initiatives at the Knight Foundation.

The Knight Foundation pitched in $250,000 of the funding. Also supporting the initiative are the City of West Palm Beach, City of Delray Beach, and Town of Lake Park.  Each will fund 1909 programs and potentially workspace in their communities. Additional programs are also being proposed in the City of Boca Raton, City of Boynton Beach, and the North End of the City of West Palm Beach.

Entrepreneurs can tap into 1909 by paying the $50 membership fee. That will give them access to co-working space 24/7 in downtown West Palm Beach and mentorship.

In addition, entrepreneurs can partake in an accelerator course for $300. The ‘1909 Accelerator, powered by Florida Atlantic University’ will provide educational resources and instruction through the FAU Adams Center’s entrepreneurship bootcamp. Those that complete the course will be able to apply for a micro grant.

“This program will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout palm beach county by supporting entrepreneurs of all types across our communities,” said Kevin Cox, Assistant Director of the FAU Adams Center for Entrepreneurship.

The Research Park at FAU, FAU Tech Runway Junior Achievement of the Palm Beach & Treasure Coast, Urban Youth Impact, Inner City Innovators, and Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce are also partnering with 1909.

Applications are now live for the 1909 Accelerator Program in Delray Beach, which will be hosted at the Greater Delray Chamber of Commerce. The 6-month acceleration and mentorship program is designed to help early-stage start-up founders develop their ideas into successful businesses.

The Delray 1909 program will begin April 22.

For more information, visit https://weare1909.org