Published on February 7th, 2017 | by Danika Thiele0
Catapult to launch new location downtown
Catapult, Lakeland’s popular small-business development incubator company, is looking to expand from their small basement headquarters to a more prominent location by Lake Mirror. In collaboration with the Lakeland Economic Development Council, the GiveWell Community Foundation and the City of Lakeland, the company plans to enlarge their work space to a state-of-the-art facility by the end of 2017.
A 24,000 feet co-working and private office space, a 5,000 feet commissary kitchen and a 9,000 feet “maker space” will help Catapult accommodate and entice new entrepreneurs to Lakeland.
Catapult plans on repurposing the 92-year-old Lakeland Cash Feed building near Lake Mirror to house the expansion. The company is excited this space will not only encourage more small businesses to the central Florida town but also recapture the historical significance of the cash-and-feed building.
The Lakeland Cash Feed building is a historical landmark to native Lakelanders. Catapult plans on maintaining this small-town charm within the building’s remodel.
Renovations for the warehouse include new floors, expanded walls and outdoor areas for leisurely dining. A team of architects plan on incorporating the existing wide-paneled windows that date back to the 1920s, when the building housed cattle feed and farm supplies.
The building that formerly housed Lakeland Cash Feed was built in 1924 and closed in 2014 after Lakeland Animal Nutrition, which operated within its walls, announced it would cease production.
Catapult 2.0’s ground floor will feature a conference room, outdoor terrace and a loading dock for entrepreneurs to sell furniture or other large items. The second floor will provide offices, a 200-person meeting room and a larger co-working space.
The third floor will house staff members from the LEDC and YLakeland, an online platform that connects college students and young professionals in Lakeland with the rest of the community.
The unique process of transformation from cash-and-feed store to Catapult 2.0 is being documented by video production companies Loud Life Productions and Randall Productions, both contributing members of Catapult.
“This cash-and-feed store once stood as a building defining its city’s culture and economy,” Jamie Clemens of Loud Life Productions said. “In our documentary film about Catapult’s process, we want to show the juxtaposition between the agriculturally driven economy of Lakeland’s past and the newly growing economy that exists today. We want people to see everything that’s happening right now in Lakeland.”
This documentary will debut at the Polk Theatre as a two-night premiere. Clemens plans to encourage small businesses in utilizing the film to recruit new and bright minds from colleges and universities in the area as interns and employees for Catapult.
One of these bright minds is Melanie Thompson, a Florida Southern junior assisting with research and interviews for the Catapult 2.0 documentary film.
“It’s really cool that we’re getting so much more in Lakeland,” Melanie Thompson said. “We’re lucky to be a part of it and see it happening in real time. It will be important in future generations to see as what it was in the past. Lakeland is going to become bigger than anyone can really wrap their brain around right now…and I’m excited to see that happen with the help of this new Catapult building.”
Catapult is presently housed in the basement of downtown’s Bank of America building off South Florida Avenue. Members are given dedicated desks, semi-private offices and a co-working space. Catapult 2.0 will be able to allow the company to expand and accommodate between 200 to 300 entrepreneurs, bringing new business to Lakeland and opportunities to students.