Trendy business incubator sets to launch in Lakeland

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Catapult, Lakeland’s trendy business incubator, is one step closer to launch.

Heavy equipment is moving dirt, getting ready to start construction on its new home, Catapult 3.0.

“I am just excited to have a new place,” said David Young, the owner of Drone Launch Academy, which sells drones and programs that teach you how to fly them.

“I think it is going to be nice that it is going to be a lot more visible to the community since a lot of people don’t know we’re here in the basement of the Bank of America Building,” he said.

All the fledgling businesses there thought they would be moving into their new space sooner. The plan was to remodel the historic Lakeland Cash Feed Building across from Lake Mirror.

Catapult had spent about $2.5 million when Hurricane Irma barreled through the area last fall.

Although the building looked strong, the storm did irreparable structural damage, and engineers said would have to be demolished. So it was.

Catapult board members were faced with a difficult decision, either to just stay put, or start from square one again and make plans to construct a new building from the ground up.

They decided to forge ahead with new construction and a bigger investment.

“A $10 million facility is what this will end up being by the time we’re done,” Catapult Executive Director Christina Graham told FOX 13.

The new building will be four times the size of the space they’re in now. It is scheduled to open by fall 2019.