Our work in Southwest Florida will unite startups, entrepreneurs, cultural and community leaders across five counties in the Sunshine State.
SecondMuse is set to launch a community-sourced incubator in Fort Myers alongside the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and in partnership with the City of Fort Myers. Based out of the new Collaboratory adjacent to Dunbar, SecondMuse’s incubator will focus on developing the next generation of leaders as well as strengthening the overall economic ecosystem.
“The Southwest Florida Community Foundation is dedicated to bringing people together to solve issues and seize opportunities for the region. Our partnership with SecondMuse reinforces this commitment as their unique approach to economic development is centered around community building,” says SWFL Community Foundation CEO Sarah Owen.
Unlike other incubators and accelerator programs, which focus on building unicorn companies, SecondMuse’s work strengthens emergent economies. We help startups grow by assisting in the development of local capital, markets, policy and regulation, infrastructure, support services, culture and history and human resources.
Current work includes. Examples of current programs include NASA’s Space Apps Challenge, New York City Economic Development Corporation’s Futureworks, the M-Corps cleantech manufacturing program with NYSERDA, The Incubator Network with Circulate Capital to battle ocean plastics, and LAUNCH, which accelerates technologies for the circular economy.
“We’ve been quietly working with Sarah and the Fort Myers community over the past year to develop the framework for our new program,” says SecondMuse Managing Partner Carrie Freeman. “What excites us most is that Southwest Florida is filled with unique, driven entrepreneurs. Our job is to help them connect and to provide them with proven resources and mentoring that drives business growth.”
To lead the local team, SecondMuse tapped Jonathan Romine as program director. In his role, Romine will support new businesses and grow existing ones to make Southwest Florida a better place to live and work. Romine has led corporate social responsibility efforts while having wide range of board and advisory positions spanning non-profit, public, political and philanthropic sectors. Romine has spent the past decade in Southwest Florida starting, growing and managing small businesses that generate more than $14 million in revenue. He most recently served as principal and director of landscape architecture for EnSite, Inc.
“Our goal is to build communities through an economic strategy consisting of what’s already present in Southwest Florida,” Romine says. “We already have a framework of small businesses here, we just need to make sure all the pieces and parts are also here to support them. That’s where SecondMuse comes in.”
Romine says he is excited for SecondMuse to partner with the Community Foundation to identify and support local entrepreneurs and small businesses through an incubation process that will provide workshops and trainings to help them get to the next level whether that means adding employees or helping them create a business plan. He says the bigger focus will be on working with the majority of Southwest Florida’s small businesses that represent the true makeup of our economy instead of the larger corporations that are traditionally supported.
“I see each day as an opportunity to help someone succeed or empower a whole community of ‘someones’ to make a better future,” Romine said. “Our method enables communities to work towards a prosperous future that is all inclusive, where everyone has a voice including the planet itself.”
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