09/26/2018: Ultimate Guide To State And Local Resources For Starting A Business In Marion County, Florida

Marion County Business Resources

Are you thinking of starting a business in Ocala? The Sunshine State offers a friendly environment for local entrepreneurs. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2018 profile of Florida, there are 2.5 million small businesses and they make up the majority of companies headquartered here. While most people think of tourism as Florida’s main industry, the statewide economy is actually quite diverse. And here in the North Central region of the state, there are plenty of opportunities and resources for starting a business in Marion County. As a 2010 article in the Ocala Star Banner put it, “Marion County might be Florida’s entrepreneurial haven, with unprecedented cooperation between city, county and private entities.”

From Florida small business grants to financing for entrepreneurs, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of resources for starting a business in Marion County, Florida. As the last locally headquartered bank in the area, CBTFL cares about small businesses and understands what it means to be one. Our lending team specializes in helping local small businesses thrive and grow. Talk to us today to find out how we can help you turn your business plan into a reality.

Marion County Resources For Entrepreneurs

CEP, Warrington College of Business, 1 Million Cups, Santa Fe College

Launching a business can be a challenging and lonely experience. People who don’t have the self-employment itch may not understand why you’d forgo a predictable nine to five to strike out on your own, risking failure and committing to working much harder than you ever did for an employer. That’s why it’s essential to find a business support group at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. Tap into a local network of more experienced business owners for mentoring, education, and camaraderie with like-minded folks who know what you’re going through.

  • Ocala / Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) is the premier local resource for entrepreneurs. In addition to all of the information and links on their website, CEP hosts networking events, educational workshops, and leadership groups and around Marion County.
  • The Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative is part of the University of Florida’s nearby Warrington College of Business. The Entrepreneurship Center provides networking, mentoring, advisory services, internships, events, and more.
  • 1 Million Cups Ocala is a weekly event that introduces entrepreneurs to the larger community.
  • Santa Fe College Entrepreneur Incubator is part of SF’s Center for Innovation and Economic Development (CIED). For startups that qualify, the incubator provides administrative and technical resources, shared office space, and advisory services from dozens of experts with expertise in topics from HR to venture capital.
  • The Gainesville Technology Entrepreneurship Center (GTEC) is another CIED business incubator in nearby Gainesville that provides early stage startups with training and infastructure.

Small Business Grants, Financing, and Tax Benefits in Marion County

Forbes magazine ranked Ocala in top 10 in nation for future job growth.

Networking and mentorship will help you find your footing as a new entrepreneur, but most new businesses also require financial support to get off the ground. Whether that comes in the form of grants you don’t have to pay back, affordable financing, or tax breaks, it all adds up to a healthier bottom line for your new company. Here’s what you need to know about grants, financing, and tax breaks in Marion County:

  • The Ocala Chapter of Florida Angel Nexus connects local investors with entrepreneurs who have a scalable business model.
  • Marion County offers the Economic Development Financial Incentive Grant to “qualified companies that invest a minimum of $300,000 and create a minimum of 10 new jobs at 115% of the Average Earnings Per Worker in the County.” The county also provides Industrial Development Bonds to businesses in the manufacturing, healthcare, or non-profit industries. Bond money can be used for “land, building and equipment purchase as well as some ‘soft costs.’”
  • Ocala’s Economic Improvement Program provides funding by way of “the waiving, crediting, or payment of fees, reduced rent on city owned property, grants, land donation or exchange, capital improvements, required infrastructure improvements, grant matching funds, gap financing, and loan guarantees.”
  • Tax benefits for businesses in Ocala include no local sales tax and business-friendly state tax policies (First $50,000 of corporate income is exempt and there is no inventory or corporate franchise tax).
  • CBTFL, the last locally headquartered bank in Marion County, offers a wide variety of business financing to meet the needs of small businesses across industries. From small business loans to equipment financing, physician and dental financing, and credit lines, CBTFL works with your company on an individualized basis to find affordable financing that meets your needs.

Statewide Grants And Resources For Starting A Business In Florida

Florida SBDC at UNF started in 1976, one of the longest running programs in the nation.

Just because your business is in Marion County doesn’t mean your search for funding and resources should stop there. Florida is a welcoming state for businesses with many opportunities to find grants and other support for your new company. Here are the best places to start:

  • Enterprise Florida works with other organizations to offer training, development, and financing options to small, minority, and entrepreneurial companies. From venture capital to microfinance and more, there are lots of resources to help you start a business in Marion County.
  • Florida is a participant in the federal State Small Business Credit Initiative, which encourages lending to small businesses. Read about the four programs offered through SSBCI here.
  • Florida Small Business Center Development Center provides an array of tools and services to help small businesses launch and grow.
  • Black Business Investment Fund (BBIF) Florida provides loans and training to Black and other minority or underserved business owners.

Local Financing For Entrepreneurs

CBTFL - Where Banking Is Personal

Now that you see all of the opportunities that await entrepreneurs in Marion County, Florida, what are you waiting for? At every stage of your business development, from startup business loans to business lines of credit and term loans, CBTFL is your local partner for Ocala SBA lenders and more. Beyond financing, we’re here to listen, advise, and cheer your success. Contact our business lending team today or visit one of our locations across Ocala, Gainesville, and The Villages.