BRADENTON -- Sarasota-based business incubator HuB is getting closer to deciding if it wants to expand into Bradenton.
HuB founder Rich Swier Jr. is inviting Manatee's entrepreneurial community to a downtown event Sept. 19 to share their thoughts and introduce themselves to the HuB.
"The HuB Connect event is for us to meet entrepreneurs, tech, creative people in Bradenton and also get feedback from people the interest level of having a HuB there," Swier said.
The HuB provides low-cost office and shared space for start-up companies to work in a collaborative and intimate environment, mainly in web-related industries. The business incubator has reached beyond helping start-up businesses in Sarasota, actively getting involved to lend a voice to nightlife and entertainment ideas and polices in Sarasota.
The HuB is headquartered at 1680 Fruitville Road, Sarasota.
Bradenton and Manatee County officials led Swier on a tour in June, meeting with representatives from the Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development Authority, Realize Bradenton, Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. and Mayor Wayne Poston.
Those talks are progressing as city leaders and Swier met Monday morning at Bradenton City Hall to talk with fiber optic suppliers and the potential for providing a high bandwidth network in Bradenton.
"I would love for Bradenton to become a Fiber City and we are in the early stages of seeing if that is possible," Swier said.
Several fiber suppliers from companies like TECO, Bright House Networks, Verizon and an unnamed supplier from California were scheduled to attend Monday's meeting, according to city documents.
The idea for Bradenton to host a second HuB was sparked by Ben Bakker, vice president of HJB Properties, who also attended Monday's meeting.
Bakker's family owns property downtown, including the Bank of America building at 1201 Sixth Ave. W., and wanted to see if Swier's company could be a fit to invigorate downtown with start-up companies.
Swier had told theHerald in early July that it was too early to tell if he wanted to create a second HuB. Since then, he has blogged "Why Bradenton could be the next Great City," saying how he likes the city's embrace of downtown music events, the Riverwalk, affordable living as well as the city's leadership contributing as positive factors for an expansion here.
David Gustafson, executive director of the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, said talks are progressing well and is optimistic about the HuB's plans.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter The HuB Connect
When: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 19
Where: SOMA Diner's new location, 1401 Manatee Ave. W
To register: Register online for The HuB Connect event at hubbradenton.eventbrite.com.