Tampa Mayor Castor Starts Minority Business Assistance Program

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is rolling out a new “Bridges to Business” initiative to help minority and women-owned small businesses. CITY OF TAMPA PHOTO

By Adam Bakst

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is rolling out a program that focuses on reaching out to minority-owned businesses to connect them with the city.

Meant to make city hall more readily available to the community, “Bridges to Business” illustrates one of Castor’s major campaign promises: helping small businesses.

Castor said the main priority is about “going out into the community and helping our small businesses, minority, and women-owned businesses, giving them an opportunity and access to different processes to help them start up a business, continue a business and help them through the vendor process.”

The program officially starts Saturday at Cyrus Greene Recreation Center in East Tampa.

The initiative quickly filled all four dozens slots for the workshop, with many of the companies also signing up for individual consultations.

Castor is already predicting this will be the first of many such workshops.

“The best outcome for this city is to have successful small business because that’s what our city is built on,” said Castor.

Still, the idea that politics has something to do with Castor’s plan remains a thought.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, in April’s runoff election with Tampa businessman David Straz, “All 7 precincts she lost — out of 103 citywide — were predominantly African American.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, African Americans and Latinos make up about 49% of Tampa’s residents.

But Castor refutes claims of this merely being an act of politics.

“Well there are people who are cynical by nature,” Castor said. “But I would say we are here to help the small businesses…and I truly believe that the small businesses are the backbone of our community.”

“What we want is our small businesses to dream big in Tampa.”

Saturday’s event is open to the public, go to TampaGov.net/btbtour to register.

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