BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation (TBBIC) announced their new federal grant Tues., Oct. 13 in a celebratory conference at their office at 1123 22nd St. S. The grant aims to expand training and capital services to low-income entrepreneurs.
Albert Lee, president
and CEO, TBBIC
The new PRIME Project (Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs) will aid as many as 220 low-income and very low-income microentrepreneurs to enter one of eight technical assistance programs, then, when ready, to access one of six capital sources that can help bridge their business to a next tier of growth.
The effort to secure federal funding for the initiative was spearheaded by the TBBIC and supported by the City Urban Affairs division and Greenhouse, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development, the Pinellas Opportunity Council, the 2020 Plan Taskforce, and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, among others.
“This grant is a culmination of a lot of effort on behalf of a lot of people,” said Albert Lee, president and CEO of the TBBIC, noting that the $75,000 is the organization’s first federal Small Business Administration grant. “What we’re excited about is it’s going to extend our capacity and ability to work with small business owners in providing the technical assistance, that much needed assistance, to get these small business owners off the ground.”
Mayor Rick Kriseman pointed out that the goal is to fully integrate capital and business development resources by focusing on local entrepreneurs and south St. Pete businesses.
“We all stand here together ready to work toward a common goal where our microentrepreneurs and our community at large are the winners, not each of us individually,” noted the mayor.
Congresswoman Kathy Castor was also on hand and noted that there is a “newfound energy, excitement and commitment” in midtown St. Pete for economic opportunity. She added that the grant will provide a much-needed boost to local entrepreneurs, and she believes it is just the beginning, because now there is a new commitment to help lift families, entrepreneurs and businesses in the neighborhood.
“Part of the Vision 20/20 Plan that this community has worked so hard to develop targets young, smart entrepreneurs,” she explained. “But the challenge here in south St. Pete oftentimes is they don’t have the capital to take that idea into reality. They don’t know where to begin. They’ve got a great idea, something that’s going to serve this community but oftentimes translating that wonderful idea into new jobs and new businesses can be very difficult.”
Castor said the grant was long overdue, and would like to see even more grant opportunities brought to south St. Pete and Midtown.
Representatives from the City Urban Affairs division and Greenhouse, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development, the Pinellas Opportunity Council, the 2020 Plan Taskforce, as well as U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and the Chamber of Commerce were all present.
For more information, please visit the TBBIC at 1123 22nd St. S, or call (727) 826-5785.