SW Florida Collaboratory

SW Fl Tech exterior finalSOUTHWEST REGION
$10 million TOTAL PROJECT
$10 million FCLF FEDERAL NMTC ALLOCATION
Renovation and restoration of historic train station building
Offering low-cost office space to area nonprofits
286 Temporary and 23 Permanent Jobs

“A neighborhood that has been struggling will be transformed with state of the art technology, and nonprofits collaborating and designing in new ways.” – Sarah Owen, President & CEO, SW Florida Community Foundation


In Fort Myers, Florida, the former Atlantic Coast Train Station, a Spanish architectural-styled highlight of the 1920’s boom era, stood vacant for some time in Midtown Fort Myers. As part of the City’s CRA plan to bring new economic development to the Midtown and Dunbar neighborhoods, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation renovated and restored this historic train station. The resulting Southwest Florida Regional Technology Hub, known as The Collaboratory, is a 2-building, 24,000 sq-ft center providing collaborative office space for nonprofits and a state of the art technology hub that will be available to both residents and businesses.

Nonprofits on site will focus on economic and community development in the area, including housing, food security, and health disparities. Prospective tenants include the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Southwest Florida Community Development Corporation, Goodwill Foundation, Ft. Myers CRA, and Florida Gulf Coast University. In addition to affordable office space for up to 10 area companies, the project will also provide hot desks that can be shared by several entities, and access to a technology hub that will match 200 community residents to technology jobs in the downtown community. The Collaboratory is expected to create or retain 23 permanent jobs and 286 temporary construction jobs. Collaboration among the nonprofits located here will provide credit and home ownership counseling for 300 clients, as well as job training and employment counseling.

The Collaboratory project is an important part of the City of Fort Myers Redevelopment Plan as it creates productive use for 3 acres of formerly nonperforming and designated Brownfield land in the Fort Myers CRA Downtown District. With land donated by the City of Fort Myers, the project is a catalyst for new development to bridge the divide between the traditional downtown and the Dunbar community, which has suffered from a lack of investment.

Florida Community Loan Fund provided $10 million in federal NMTCs for the Tech Hub. U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation is investor on the project. Whitney-Hancock Bank provided additional financing. This transaction was finalized in December 2016.

Community Profile:

  • Fort Myers, Florida, Midtown CRA District
  • 52% of Area Median Income
  • 19% Unemployment Rate - 2.44x the national average
  • Brownfield, TIF District, Redevelopment Zone, HUB Zone 

Hear from Sarah Owen and learn more about the SW Florida Collaboratory in this video.

SW FL Collaboratory report pic

To download this information as a pdf file, click here.
For more information visit the SW Florida Community Foundation website, www.collaboratory.org
View more photos of The Collaboratory here in FCLF's Flickr album.

Pictured above, the completed SW Florida Collaboratory and Technology Hub. Below, photo of existing building prior to renovation.

SW Fl Tech Hub building before renovations

"Without the FCLF initial loan to purchase land, we might not have been able to move forward with farmworker housing." – Peter Routsis-Arroyo, CEO, Catholic Charities, Diocese of Venice

Casa San Juan Bosco

"Our partnership with FCLF helps the American Dream of homeownership come true." – Michael Roberts, Exec Dir

R.E.A.C.H.

"FCLF staff shares our vision and commitment to serve needy families and provide a high quality education to all children." – Thomas Cole, Founder

Emma Jewel Charter Academy

“Thanks to FCLF we’re able to provide brand-new safe, affordable homes for 90 families in a sustainable mixed-use, mixed-income community." – Mitchell Rosenstein, Founder & Principal

Green Mills Group

"FCLF demonstrates a mission-oriented philosophy that is compatible and supportive, broadens our platform and deepens our portfolio of products and services." – Kent Adcock, CEO

Habitat for Humanity of Lake-Sumter

"FCLF plays a significant role in sustaining vibrant and thriving communities. We are pleased to support your ongoing community based efforts." – Ernie Diaz, South Florida Market President

TD Charitable Foundation

“The collaboration with FCLF and using NMTC financing allows us to bring the most ambitious projects to life to benefit the communities we serve.” – Elodie Dorso, President & CEO

Community Health Centers of Pinellas

"Thank you to our friends at FCLF. Your staff has been patient and helpful. We'll make you proud!" – Bill Lazar, Executive Director

St. Johns Housing Partnership

"We commend the important work of your organization, are glad to support its efforts." – Beverly Dabney

JPMorgan Chase Foundation

"We're thrilled to partner with FCLF to make our project a reality to serve generations of kids in our community." – Dawn Stanhope, President & CEO

Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County

"We appreciate the accomplishments your organization attains." - Robert Sucher, Executive VP

Sabadell United Bank

"Our partnership with FCLF allows us to build an attractive, state of the art facility that patients, staff, and community will be proud of." – Bakari Burns, President-CEO

Orange Blossom Family Health

"We consider FCLF a valued partner and strong advocates for low-income communities and families. We look forward to many more years of working together." – Jennifer Westerbeck, Vice President

US Bancorp CDC

“FCLF will help us have significant ongoing impact in West Lakes as we help families set roots in this community.” – Camille Reynolds, Executive Director

Hannibal Square CLT

“We are proud to partner with FCLF on this project, which expands access to innovative, quality, comprehensive primary healthcare in our communities.” – Annie Neasman, President & CEO

Jessie Trice Community Health

“Expanding our facility with NMTC financing provides the Overtown community resources necessary to provide a fighting chance to break down barriers and break the cycles of poverty.” – Tina Brown, CEO

Overtown Youth Center

"FCLF is a difference maker! Their team provides solutions to bring about real change in a community." – Tim Marks, President & CEO

Metropolitan Ministries

“Our partnership with FCLF makes an enormous difference in overcoming the challenge of providing affordable housing." – Jo Ann Nesbitt, President/CEO

St. Jude Great Commission CDC

"Aida Palms will be a lasting asset to the City of Lakeland. This revitalization wouldn't be possible without financing partners like FCLF." – Mitchell Rosenstein, Principal, Green Mills Group

Aida Palms

"FCLF understood our context, embraced the project vision, and were willing to make an investment that others deemed as too risky." – Lynn Brockwell-Carey, Executive Director

Brevard Neighborhood Development Coaliti…

Core Purpose FCLF exists to maximize opportunities for people and places outside of the economic mainstream.
Our Vision Opportunity and dignity exist for every person and community in Florida.
Our Mission Our expertise and capital make projects successful and help organizations improve lives and communities.