In 2007, Steve Millaway returned to his hometown in Panama City after spending most of his career in Arizona. Although Panama City and Panama City Beach had both experienced considerable growth, the growth was primarily centered on tourism and the expansion of DoD contractors supporting the local Navy Base and Tyndall Air Force Base.
What was still missing were the high paying private sector jobs like those found in Silicon Valley, Austin, and Phoenix, among others. As he later discovered, the same situation existed for much of Northwest Florida where the local coastal economies were driven largely by tourism and the Military. Steve soon discovered that Gulf Coast State College (GCSC) was thinking about building a state-of-the-art technology center on campus where students could receive training in a wide range of areas including advanced manufacturing, computer science, cyber security, and digital media.
The plans included facilities that allowed hands-on training with emerging technologies such alternative energy systems, electric
cars and additive manufacturing using 3D printers. For the next 6 years, Steve served on various advisory boards at the college that focused on the development of the new technology center and on launching various entrepreneurial programs.
Finally, in late 2013, GCSC’s new $35M Advanced Technology Center (pictured above) held its grand opening, and in doing so, ushered in a new era where students could now receive training on advanced technologies, design and build prototypes, and receive entrepreneurial training. However, what was still missing in the community was a technology incubator where both students and residents of the community could take their ideas from concept to prototype and receive advice and mentoring while they start their new businesses. To address this need, Steve founded TechFarms in early 2015.