County to vote on approval of CARES Act funds for shores CEP project

The Marion County Commission meets in the County Commission auditorium at the McPherson Governmental Complex in Ocala, Fla. on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted January 3, 2022 | By Matthew Cretul

The Marion County Board of County Commissioners (MCBOCC) will vote at their upcoming regular meeting on a budget amendment designed to fund a business incubator project proposed by the Ocala Metro Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP).

According to documents posted online in advance of the meeting, Michael McCain, the executive director for Internal Services initiated the request to transfer $138,000 from the county’s Coronavirus Relief Non-Operating – Cares Act account to their Coronavirus Relief – Aid To Private Organizations account.

The request states the funds will be used by the CEP “to provide for five (5) years of a lease agreement for a neighborhood incubator in Silver Springs Shores”, and recommends the board approve the amendment.

The planned site of the program is a unit in the Crystal Square Shopping Center, which is located at 6829 SE Maricamp Road. According to the Marion County Property Appraiser’s Office, Crystal Square Shopping Center is owned by Discount Mini Storage Of Ocala LLC, which has a listed address in Boca Raton.

The project was initially approved at the Dec. 21 MCBOCC regular meeting, and, according to a letter sent by Kevin Sheilley the President and CEO of the CEP to Marion County Administrator Mounir Bouyounes on Dec. 3, is intended to create space for up to ten individuals to set up and grow their retail and service businesses.

Originally, the project was designed to be 3,800 square feet, which prompted the CEP to ask the county for $240,000 to pre-pay rent on the space for five years. However, at the MCBOCC meeting on the 21st, Bouyounes updated the county that the amount needed to fund the lease pre-payment had changed as a result of a space decrease from 3,800 sq ft to 2,400 sq ft.

Instead of $240,000 for the lease, Bouyounes noted the new need was $138,000, the same amount the county will vote on at their upcoming meeting. He also noted that as a result of the decrease in size, the amount to renovate and build out the project dropped from $400,000 to $240,000.

According to Sheilley, the space decrease was the result of a lengthy lease process, and it should not have an adverse impact on the overall program.

“We’ve had a long LOI (letter of intent) with the landlord trying to get this through. And unfortunately, the amount of time that we’ve had this, it’s taken so long they’ve leased a portion of the space to someone else. But it’s still within our original space, it remains within our original parameters, and so we’re still able to make it work,” he said in a previous interview.

The planned site of the program is a unit in the Crystal Square Shopping Center, which is located at 6829 SE Maricamp Road.

The MCBOCC next meets on Jan. 4, 2022, at 9 am, and is expected to approve the amendment.

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