Ybor City, FL -- An old cigar factory in Ybor City has undergone some big changes.
The Bering building may have its history in tobacco, but its future looks to be in marijuana. You could call it a modern day grow house.
The Common Bond Collaborative opened its doors Thursday in Ybor City with the goal of growing marijuana-related businesses by putting cannabis concepts on the fast track.
"Instead of it taking you 10 years to do that, we can basically take you to a point where you're ready in a period of four months," said Tom Quigley, the founder of Common Bond Collaborative.
Common Bond is located in the old Wodiska cigar factory building, dating back to a time when Ybor industry was built around another agricultural product: tobacco.
"Medicinal and recreational is just the tip of the iceberg," said Aubree Arias, founder of Greenleaf Joint Ventures.
Arias, 42, is one of the entrepreneurs at Common Bond positioning himself for what promoters call a multi-billion dollar industry. Arias' business, like many, actually has little to do with the pot plant itself.
"You can make bio-fuels and bio-plastics, extrapolate that to making 3D printing materials in the future. We know where that's going," says Arias.
The collaborative is keeping a close eye on Amendment 2, hoping in just a few days that Florida voters will decide to make medical marijuana legal. If that happens, Common Bond says it would only open the door to that many more potential start-ups.
If not, they are still committed to doing business here, having signed a five-year lease, says Quigley.
The Common Bond concept is based on a Silicon Valley model: work spaces that encourage group thinking, games that promote strategy, and legal, accounting, and public relations are all under one roof.
Dozens will start working here, but if they can weed out a few winners, they may end up launching hundreds of cannabis careers.
"I really don't know who's going to come in, but I do know we're going to help them, we're going to be part of it and we're going to make this future bright," said Quigley.