Business Pitch Competition for $5,000 Grant for Food, Art and Retail Industry Entrepreneurs

(Fort Lauderdale – October 2, 2017) – The City of Fort Lauderdale Northwest-Progresso-Flagler Community Redevelopment Agency (NPFCRA) will open its doors to entrepreneurs in search of a great place to live, work, and play at the Fort Lauderdale Village District START WeekendSTART Weekend will be held October 6-7, 2017 at the Midtown Commerce Center, located at 1033 Sistrunk Boulevard #206, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311.

START Weekend is a two-day pitch competition that will provide the space, mentorship, insight and structure for entrepreneurs who are looking to jumpstart or restart an idea and turn it into a business. The three-targeted industries for this event are Food, Art and Retail.  These business sectors are of great interest to the NPFCRA as well as the residents of the Fort Lauderdale Village District, which includes the Historic Sistrunk, Progresso Village, and Flagler Village neighborhoods.

Participants will compete for up to $5,000 in grant funding to be used for NPRCRA approved services including marketing, professional services, signage, or 1-3 months’ rent for a property located within the CRA boundaries to name a few.  Businesses must currently reside, expand, or relocate to the Fort Lauderdale Village District (NPRCRA area) to be eligible for the grant.  Winners of the competition will be required to complete the six-week Fort Lauderdale Village District START Training Institute facilitated by The Urban League of Broward County.  START Training Institute is scheduled for October 18, 2017 through November 22, 2017 and will cover topics such as organizational management, financial management, marketing, access to capital and more.  The NPFCRA has teamed up with the Urban League of Broward County to offer participants additional resources and funding opportunities upon completion of the Start Training Institute.

Additionally, the NPFCRA will introduce the START Business Match Program, where property owners within the CRA boundaries will be matched with the winners of the competition who need office, retail, restaurant, or commercial space.  The match program is aimed to assist property owners that have vacant spaces to acquire new tenants and moreover, attract and retain new businesses into the Fort Lauderdale Village District.   The NPFCRA has several incentive programs in which property owners can work with the prospective tenants to apply for funds for façade improvements, interior improvements, and streetscape enhancements.

“Maximizing the opportunities for private participation in redevelopment is one of the objectives of the Community Redevelopment Plan for the Northwest-Progresso-Flagler Heights Area. Our agency has had success in encouraging such investment in brick and mortar projects and know that the success of those projects require businesses to find a long-term home within the area”, said D’Wayne Spence, Community Redevelopment Area Manager of the City of Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency. “The Fort Lauderdale Village START Weekend is an important step in identifying, encouraging and equipping individuals with the drive, ideas and skills sets to develop sustainable businesses within the CRA.”

START Weekend Schedule-At-A-Glance

Friday, October 6th, 2017 – 6:00PM – 9:00PM

  • Kick-Off Mixer
  • START Program Overview
  • Keynote Speaker
  • Round 1 Pitch Competition & Peer-to-Peer Judging
  • Team Presentation Prep

Saturday, October 7th, 2017 – 9:00AM – 6:00PM

  • Team Presentation Prep
  • Coaching & Mentoring Sessions
  • Presentation Rehearsal
  • Round 2 Pitch Competition
  • Awards Ceremony
  • Closing Reception

START Weekend participants must already have their teams formed upon arrival. They will receive an information package to include pitch deck templates and other materials to use as guidance to properly present their ideas. The Urban League of Broward County will provide industry experts to coach and mentor the entrepreneurs as they prepare their final pitches. Final pitches will be presented to a panel of judges comprised of local investors, small business support agencies and members of the NPFCRA staff.  Judges will identify viable businesses that could be established within the Fort Lauderdale Village District.  Final Pitches will begin promptly at 3:00pm on Saturday.

Participation in START Weekend is free.  Learn more and register at or contact The Mosaic Group at 561-651-9565 / NPFCRA at (954) 828-6130.

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(Ft. Lauderdale – April 2017) – The City of Fort Lauderdale has approved another Northwest–Progresso- Flagler Community Redevelopment Agency (NPF CRA) incentive program applicant, Invasive Species Brewing, LLC in the amount $110,353. The purpose for the money is to renovate the building and site at 726 NE 2 Avenue and purchase equipment to construct an artisan brew pub.   The incentive funding package for the brewery and tap room consists of $85,557 from the Property and Business Improvement Program and $24,796 from the CRA Facade Program. The pub is located just south of the Flagler Greenway in the Flagler Village neighborhood.

Invasive Species Brewing is a partnership of brewers and co-founders Phil Gillis, former brewer at the Funky Buddha and Josh Levitt, former brewer at MIA Brewing Co. They have teamed up with Chris and Jordan Bellus, the brothers who founded and operate Laser Wolf, a popular bar in Progresso Plaza since 2010.

“We are thrilled with the resurgence in the Flagler Village area, which can be largely credited to the assistance of the CRA, and extremely thankful for the CRA Board’s recommendation for assistance,” says Josh Levitt, co-owner of Invasive Species Brewing, “We are looking forward to becoming a big part of the local community and an exciting destination for residents.”

Invasive Species Brewing has leased the property since January 2016. They have a five year lease with two 5 year options to renew.   The pair have invested over $200,000 of their own capital to date on project expenses including renovating the interior structure and the purchase of brewery equipment.   CRA Funding will be used for additional interior and exterior renovation consisting of new windows and doors, electrical and AC upgrades, sidewalk, landscaping and irrigation.   In addition, funding will be used for the purchase of additional brewery equipment. The incentive program funding is provided as a 5-year forgivable loan. Invasive Species Brewing estimates that the new business at full operation will create 13 to 15 jobs and are committed to giving priority in hiring to residents of the NPF CRA. With the additional funding provided by the CRA, they plan on opening for business in the Summer 2017.

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FORT LAUDERDALE (June 2017)The Housing Authority of the City of Fort. Lauderdale (HACFL) and Atlantic | Pacific Communities (A|P Communities) hosted the grand opening of the fifth phase of the Northwest Gardens Sustainable Neighborhood and rededication of Dr. William H. Lindsey Apartments to a packed house. On hand to celebrate were Fort Lauderdale Commissioners Dean J. Trantalis, and Robert L. McKinzie, Housing Authority Resident Commissioner, Shirley Carson, Kenneth Naylor, CEO Atlantic/Pacific Communities, Sheryl Woods CEO and President of the YMCA of South Florida, Tam English, Executive Director, HACFL and Scott Strawbridge, Director of Development and Facilities, HACFL. The celebration was not only about the completion of Phase V, but the ribbon cutting marked the successful completion of five phases three years ahead of goal.

The Northwest Gardens Phases II and IV, a 266 unit redevelopment completed in 2014, was re-dedicated as the W.H. Lindsey Apartments in honor of Dr. William H. Lindsey, the great change maker and social justice champion of the Northwest neighborhood. The redevelopment is a leading example of a complex, master plan implementation that transformed one of the most impoverished, drug and crime ridden neighborhoods in the country into a safe, stable, aesthetic, environmentally-friendly, and walk able community.

The $40 million in financing used for the fifth phase of development was provided by Bank of America, N.A.; Barings Real Estate Advisers, LLC; Broward County Housing Finance Authority; Florida Housing Finance Corporation; and Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale.  Since 2008, there has been over $200 million of public and private investment in the 660-unit redevelopment of the neighborhood where 1,500 people now reside.

A|P Communities and HACFL collaborated on this development with the goal of revitalizing the community and implementing a sense of place by creating a sustainable neighborhood that promotes urban self-sufficiency and a healthy, safe, accessible living environment.

“In rebuilding these properties with state of the art amenities, we have provided even more opportunities for residents and their families to have a productive, rewarding life,” explains Tam English, Executive Director of the HACFL.  “Improved housing and vibrant community partnerships have resulted in lower crime, better school test scores and a happier, healthier community.”

Additionally, Northwest Gardens utilized the Step-Up Apprenticeship Program, a state certified apprenticeship program sponsored by HACFL and the Broward School System and Florida Department of Education. HACFL began this program by employing local residents for maintenance jobs on their properties. The program now includes training apprentices in maintenance, painting, light construction, cabinet-making, urban farming, and other entrepreneurial skills.  Employees of the Step-Up Program built and installed all of the kitchen and bathroom cabinetry for Northwest Gardens residential buildings.  A|P Communities and HACFL also hosted YouthBuild program participants at Northwest Gardens V, providing hands-on construction training.

“I am proud and honored to stand beside these men and women of the Step-Up Program,” says Scott Strawbridge, HACFL Director of Development and Facilities. “The experience has changed my life and the way I see the world.”

In 2012, the Northwest Gardens neighborhood received the first LEED-ND (neighborhood development) pre-certification in the state of Florida, second in the US, and will achieve LEED-ND Gold certification now that it is complete. The neighborhood was also nationally honored in 2012 with a US EPA Smart Growth Award for Equitable Development.

“It has been a great privilege to partner with the Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale to achieve their vision of sustainable redevelopment, and it has been incredibly gratifying to watch the neighborhood transform,” said Ken Naylor, LEED AP and Chief Operating Officer of A|P Communities.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was followed by a tour of the Phase V property and the apartments, which consist of one, two and three bedrooms, with energy efficient air-conditioning, fixtures, and appliances.  Members of the Step-Up Apprenticeship Initiative, Artists in Residence and Garden Leader Training will be on hand as tour guides.

For more information about HACFL, please visit For more information about A|P Communities, please visit


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The Housing Authority has been committed to providing safe, decent, and affordable housing to low-income residents in Broward County since 1938 and currently manages approximately 95 public housing units, 170 affordable housing units, 945 tax credit units, and administers over 3,100 housing choice vouchers. In addition to offering affordable rental housing and several public housing sites, the Housing Authority administers numerous programs, such as the Family Self-Sufficiency Program, the Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership Program, and the Step-Up Apprenticeship Initiative, to promote self-sufficiency and economic opportunity for Broward County residents. For additional information about the programs please call Scott Strawbridge, 954-556-4100 X1406.



Atlantic | Pacific Communities is a national affordable housing development company with a staff of professionals dedicated to excellence in affordable housing.  Atlantic | Pacific Communities is an affiliate of Atlantic | Pacific Companies, a fourth generation family-owned and operated real estate company who builds and operates high quality housing to serve every income level.  Atlantic | Pacific Companies employs more than 1,000 people, and conducts business in Florida, Georgia, Texas, California and the Mid-Atlantic.  We have developed over 15,000 units of multifamily rental housing, and currently manage over 32,800 multi-family units and over 500,000 square feet of commercial space in over 138 properties.  Atlantic | Pacific Communities was founded to bridge the gap between real estate development and economic development.  For additional information on Atlantic | Pacific Communities, please visit our website at



Margie Sernik, JWI PR | +1 786-200-2516 | [email protected]
Juliana Gutierrez, JWI PR | +1 786-991-4259 | [email protected]


Ann Marie Sorrell, Mosaic Group I +1 -561-651-9565 I [email protected]
Mikki Royce, Mosaic Group I 1-561-651-9565 I [email protected]


The Mosaic Group is hosting a community meeting to provide an update on the Northwest-Progresso-Flagler Village Community Redevelopment Agency Marketing efforts including what has been completed to date and plans moving forward. The community is invited to come and learn about the efforts and share their input. For more information, contact The Mosaic Group at 561.651.9565.