‘Q’ Breakfast Takes Aim at Innovation

Innovation was front and center at the latest Volusia County Economic Development “Q” Breakfast and if the enthusiasm of the panelists is any indication, it is likely to stay there.

Speaking on the topic Cultivating Innovation, panelists Stephanie Miller, executive director of Technology Transfer and Research Park at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; entrepreneur Lou Paris; and Connie Garzon, site manager at the Volusia County Business Incubator shared their insights and recommendations on the importance of innovation for economic growth.

Having resources to help entrepreneurs and start-ups is something county leaders recognize, said Helga van Eckert, Volusia County economic development director. She said a recent survey of business owners listed finding the resources they need to expand and innovate among the top three issues they face alongside workforce needs and finance.

Paris said a key to encouraging innovation is making sure people know about the opportunities for assistance.

“The ecosystem definitely exists, the resources are there,” he said. “It’s up to us to send them in the right direction.”

Paris also said another important issue is connecting with students leaving college with entrepreneurial training to keep them from taking their skills elsewhere.

“I want to challenge us as a community to retain the talent we are cranking out at the local universities,” he said. “That doesn’t happen with a job fair, we have to do more. We need to encourage those students at a deeper level.”