Rise Gulf Coast - The Goal

In order to focus our community of entrepreneurial enthusiasts and supporters on making entrepreneurial businesses our third economic leg and to provide a common target that all of our programs and projects can aim towards, we are proposing the following long-term goal.

1,000 Entrepreneurial Business Startups in 10 Years

The time is now to Rise Gulf Coast. Let’s work together to achieve this goal.


Recently Steve Case, the co-founder of America Online (AOL), published a document titled “Rise of the Rest 2018 Ecosystem Playbook” featuring insights and ideas from regional cities that are creating entrepreneurial businesses and vibrant, lively ecosystems around them. It presents stories around the following four insights.

  • Connecting and convening our community

  • Leveraging university resources

  • Fostering innovation with public policies and programs

  • Promoting partnerships with regional corporations and local industry

As I read through these insights, it dawned on me they form a great road map we can follow as we work towards our initial goal of 1,000 new entrepreneurial businesses.

Connecting and Convening

For the last several years, groups of entrepreneurial enthusiasts have been gathering together to learn and discuss how to define and support our entrepreneurial ecosystem. The latest initiative is 1Million Cups/Pensacola which joins EntreCon, Startup Week-end and I-Ten Wired as ways for people to participate and connect with each other.

Leveraging University Resources

The University of West Florida hosts the Center for Entrepreneurship which provides lots of opportunities for students to experience entrepreneurship.

Fostering Innovation with Public Policies and Programs

It is important to look at all public policies at the Federal, State and Local levels and work to reduce those that discourage entrepreneurship and increase those that foster entrepreneurship. As a local ecosystem it is critical that we learn about our local County commission and City policies and use of joined voice to advocate for more conducive policies.

An opportunity exists now to begin transforming the mid-town Pensacola area into a Great Place for entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses by creating an Innovation District.

Another opportunity is the TriNet middle-mile fiber-optic network project that is being developed as a public-private partnership for Triumph Gulf Coast funding.

Promoting Partnerships with Regional Corporations and Local Industry

After all the incubating, accelerating, mentoring is done - the most important thing that start-up businesses and entrepreneurs need are great customers. Each community along the gulf coast have large businesses that need many of the products or services that local entrepreneurs produce. In many locations those large businesses actively reach out to the local entrepreneurs as vanguard customers.