Workshops & Special Projects
All workshops are located at the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center:
3903 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., Suite 6 Fort Myers, FL 33916.
Click the links below or continue scrolling to learn more about each workshop.
Train to Gain Program
There is a significant need in the community for high school graduate training in Fort Myers, Lee County. Statistics show that 41.1% of high school graduates in Lee County do not attend college. The time- period right after graduation is crucial to developing career- pathing & direction in young adults. The “Train to Gain” program strives to provide education, training, & job opportunities to young adults in the Lee County School District who are entering the construction and trade workforce directly from High School. This early career-pathing ensures economic self-sufficiency thus contributing to Fort Myers workforce growth.
Key Instructional Facts
Some of the courses that students can take in the program are:
- Blueprint Reading
- Construction Math
- OSHA Safety
Classes are offered after school twice a week & are taught by trained construction industry leaders in Ft Myers in an application-based environment designed to get hands-on practical knowledge. Students will also get live- field experience working on homes at the program’s completion.
We are always looking for new partners to offer instructional support! If would like to be recognized as a company integral & vested in building a secure future for our youth & the economic success of Ft Myers, please give us a call us at (239)-321-7085.
Pre-Construction Readiness Training Program
Are you looking for a new career in the construction or trade fields or are you already working in construction and would like to sharpen your skills and get ahead? The Southwest Florida Enterprise Center Pre-Construction Readiness Training Program is designed for you!
Our Application-based Pre-Construction Readiness program is designed to engage students and build their skills for success in the career of construction. Get live hands-on training from leaders in today’s hottest construction industries such as drywall, roofing, & HVAC.
Upon completion, participants will have the opportunity to earn:
- 60 C.E.U’s with NCCER
- Workshop Length: 8 weeks (60 Hrs.)
- Cost: $0 (FREE OF CHARGE!)
- Location: SWFL Enterprise Center
Key Instructional Facts
- Construction 101
- Basic Safety
- Introduction to Construction Math
- Introduction to Hand Tools & Ladders
- Introduction to Materials Handling, Roofing & Drywall
- OSHA safety
To Sign up, or if you are a business interested in partnering up with us to provide instructional support, call us at 239-321-7085.
It is our hope that our unique Restaurant Incubator initiative will launch one of the best and most unique restaurant concepts in all of Lee County or SW Florida. We want to cultivate and accelerate undiscovered Chefs by providing a forum to showcase their capabilities, hone their craft, develop business acumen, and build a cult following behind their concepts.
The SWFL Enterprise Center has recently submitted a business plan for the use of McCollum Hall, located on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Fort Myers. It is a perfect space to conduct such a program. With the option of having four to six fully outfitted kitchens and seats for 250 guests, we provide the infrastructure for Chefs to bring their concepts to market at low-risk and for low-cost.
Description of Service
Shared risk, mutual benefit. The investment model calls for a mutual concern for the success of the fledgling operation. Obviously, the chef wants to launch the concept away from the confines of the security of the incubator catalyst. The process of building the startup, staking it with a unique product array and defining a brand is at the core of the business.
Our selected Chefs will spend 18 months with us. They run their own restaurants in our space and have the autonomy to run their businesses the way they’ve always dreamed. They set the menu. They hire a staff. They interact directly with the customer and build their following. The bulk of their success relies solely upon them although we will be available for consultation on a regular basis and oversee the processes of each Chef.
Every Monday – when we are closed to the public – the Chefs attend weekly trainings by industry leaders on branding, business plan drafting, marketing, and restaurant operations. We help them fuse their artistic talent with business skill. In the final six months of their terms here, they continue to run their restaurants while we help them secure financing and find their next site in the city. We expose them to our network of real estate developers and financiers to make their restaurant dream become reality.
Meanwhile, to the public we offer a full bar, coffee & espresso bar, and up to 6 innovative restaurants in our 9,000 square foot space. Every 18 months, we bring in up to 6 new, aspiring restaurateurs and start again. In a city that is constantly moving forward, we will continually reinvent our historic space on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. to feature the very best of the culinary world, and give them a stage to share their talents with the world.
Enterprise Center Business Incubator Model
Chefs operate their restaurants rent-free for their entire 18 month stay with us. The Enterprise Center collects 30% of top-line revenue generated from each restaurant. Chefs use the other 70% to purchase inventory, compensate staff, and pay themselves. All marketing, advertising, equipment maintenance, space upkeep, and utility costs are covered by The Enterprise Center.
Each chef will have a full kitchen at their disposal including the following equipment:
- 10-burner range + 8-foot hood
- Convection ovens
- 23-cubic-foot upright refrigerator
- 67” Prep table + under counter double-doored refrigerator
- Under counter double-doored freezer
- Prep sink + front prep table
- Hand sink
We have built extra space for specialized equipment that a Chef may require for his or her restaurant.
What does the Chef need to bring “to the table”?
First and foremost, we are looking for talented Chefs who have dreams of starting their own restaurants, and who have an interesting, compelling story to tell. In terms of hard assets, we require that Chefs supply their own cookware, such as knives, pots, pans, and other ovenware. Chefs will also need to show working capital equivalent to 3 months of projected operating expenses for their restaurant concept.
Value Proposition & Rationale
The proposed incubator model combines a structured curriculum of small business technical assistance with personalized mentoring and coaching to address the specific needs of each entrepreneur. On average, only 28% of culinary incubator participants across the country are low income. We believe this model can be scaled to support the Fort Myers community.
A restaurant incubator provides the physical space, along with other supports, to cultivate the growth of a spirited chef as they open their own place. Dotted throughout the country, like Chicago’s Intro and Smallman Galley in Pittsburg, these incubators offer an opportunity for chefs that may otherwise be locked out of owning their own businesses. Brooklyn FoodWorks, for example, was created to cultivate creativity with a distinctly Brooklyn flavor. The New York iteration of the incubator employs a panel of industry experts and advisors to move the talent beyond the kitchen door.
The food industry is growing
- The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts food preparation to be one of the fastest growing occupational categories between 2014 and 2021.
The food industry is accessible to low-income workers
- The food industry is low-barrier in nature, and does not require significant formal education beyond a high school credential to build a successful business.
- Due to the prevalence of restaurants in the Fort Myers River District, many low-income individuals have significant culinary employment experience.
Low-income entrepreneurs face funding challenges
- Low-income entrepreneurs independently seeking loans face greater challenges than their higher socioeconomic peers in successfully receiving funding from traditional lenders.
- If funded, low-income entrepreneurs often receive higher interest loans due to lower credit scores and limited ability to use business assets as collateral. They also have weaker support networks.
- As an incubator, the largest costs for an operation of this sort is the startup costs for machinery and equipment. The businesses utilizing our space will not have these costs. They will be able to facilitate any cooking, baking or preparation needs within the facility. We will also provide some light storage and commissary space for use by the business as well.
To learn more about our Restaurant Incubator program or to contribute financially, please see our Support Us page and click on the “Click Here” link in the Restaurant Incubator section of the page.