Grant From Knight Fund Connects 26 West Center to Downtown Bradenton Economic Development

Bradenton, Fla. Jun. 16, 2022

(Bradenton, Fla., June 16, 2022) — State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota’s (SCF) 26 West Center will actively foster business development in downtown Bradenton as part of an initiative funded by the Knight Donor Advised Fund of Manatee Community Foundation (MCF). The $75,000 in funding will foster relationships for businesses, nonprofits and entrepreneurs to benefit from the expertise of SCF faculty and staff, the college’s resources, and the new business development tools at the 26 West Center.

A December 2020 study of downtown Bradenton by the Economics Group LLC found potential growth opportunities in nearly every business sector, including retail, dining, health and personal care. Through the strategic use of services available at 26 West, located at SCF Bradenton, 5840 26th Street W., new businesses and businesses or nonprofits detrimentally affected by COVID-19 can flourish to address gaps in services, populate vacant storefronts and fill empty lots. The initiative’s efforts will focus on supporting businesses owned by women and people of color.

“SCF’s 26 West Center is a gateway to our local community dedicated to allowing entrepreneurs, business owners and our community the opportunity to lead, learn and grow,” said 26 West Entrepreneurship Center Director Kim Richmond.

The Center’s programs include a student-run ad agency called The Digital Collective, the Business Growth Lab, SCF’s Creative Studio, and the Coding Academy. Each offers a range of services and flexible options to help an organization grow. In addition, free introductory consultations are available to become familiar with the potential resources while discussing needs, goals and pricing.

“The Knight Fund of Manatee Community Foundation is committed to better connecting the downtown area to key assets such as universities, enhancing the public realm to be more connected and vibrant, and engaging underrepresented communities,” said Susie Bowie, MCF Executive Director. “This investment will support these important objectives, and we are honored to partner with State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.”

The Knight Fund of MCF supports the downtown and riverfront area to attract talented people and better connect neighborhoods to the surrounding lower-income communities. They focus on connecting people of different generations and economic levels, creating a more livable, vibrant urban core.  

Businesses, nonprofits and entrepreneurs interested in using the 26 West Center’s resources should contact Kim Richmond at or 941-752-5449.