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Redevelopment - News

Posted on: November 3, 2021

SWFEC to Create 6-Year Small Business & Workforce Development Project

Southwest Florida Enterprise Center Exterior Buildings View

The Southwest Florida Enterprise Center (SWFEC) is partnering with The Greater Dunbar Initiative to use a portion of the Southward Village Rebuild Grant to create a six-year Small Business & Workforce Development Program.

The Fort Myers Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Commissioners approved the program at its regular meeting on November 3, 2021. 

In 2020, SWFEC was approached by the Housing Authority to be a partner with Urban Strategies, Inc., in the grant request to rebuild Southward Village. On November 5, 2020, SWFEC submitted a participant proposal, and the CRA learned recently that the grant requested was accepted. 

The Southwest Florida Enterprise Center will be responsible for the following:

  • Train-to-Gain Workforce Development Program Once a year, SWFEC will facilitate the "Train-to-Gain" workforce development program to 10 to 20 high school students (11th and 12th grades) who live within the Greater Dunbar Initiative communities.*
  • Pre-Construction Readiness Workforce Development Program Once to three times a year, SWFEC will facilitate the “Pre-Construction Readiness” workforce development program to at least 20 adult residents who live within the Greater Dunbar Initiative communities.**
  • Small Business Development Program Once or twice a year, facilitate the “Small Business Development Program” to 20 individuals maximum who live within the Greater Dunbar Initiative communities.***

The funding source is the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Grant (Urban Strategies, Inc.) with a total funding amount of $834,000 over 6 years, or $139,000 per year. The approved Memorandum of Understanding will expire on November 1, 2027, but will be reviewed annually and updated as needed. 


*About the Train-to-Gain Workforce Development Program In the "Train  to  Gain" program, young adults entering the construction and trade workforce directly from high school receive education, training, and job opportunities. Throughout the program, graduates who reside and attend school in the City of Fort Myers are instructed on defining and achieving a clear career path  in the fields of construction and automotive service and repair. The goal and vision of our program are to work with employers and community partners to assist graduates in achieving economic self-sufficiency and improving their quality of life. 

**About the Pre-Construction Readiness Program This training program is designed for adults considering a career change or who are already in the trades and  wish to improve their skills. The SWFEC's Pre-Construction Readiness program aims to engage individuals seeking to develop their skills for success  in the construction industry. We offer hands-on training from industry leaders in today's hottest construction industries, including drywall, roofing, HVAC systems and more. 

***About the Small Business Development Program This is a series of training of comprehensive business training for those interested in starting their own business, enhancing their current business plan. During this course of training, aspiring entrepreneurs will be introduced to various proven business tools, strategies, and concepts that will help develop their business or to acquire new business skills that will support their individual career advancement and improve their quality of life.

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