Low-income entrepreneurs in Midtown St. Pete now have a pool of $75,000 to work from to launch small businesses in the community.
Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration presented to the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corp., hopeful business owners may now have access to the capital necessary to launch a new business.
“Part of the vision 2020 plan that this community has worked so hard to develop targets young, smart entrepreneurs, but the challenge here in St. Pete is they don’t have the capital to take that idea into reality. They don’t know where to begin,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor during a press conference in front of the TBBIC office in Midtown. “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.”
The grant is part of a collaboration between the city, federal government and TBBBIC to establish the PRIME Project – Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs.
PRIME is expected to help as many as 220 low- or very low-income people looking to launch a new business in the deeply impoverished Midtown community.
Businesses can range from a barber shop to a corner store; a cell-phone repair shop to an auto mechanic.
“My commitment is to the people of this great city and investing in our people,” St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman said. “Investing in our people is far greater than investing in buildings alone.”
The PRIME Project will also provide resources for future business owners to identify and apply for funding.
“It’s one thing to have capital that you can provide but if you don’t have people that can avail [themselves of] capital then it’s all for naught,” TBBBIC CEO Albert Lee said.
The TBBIC spearheaded efforts to identify federal funding with support from the City Urban Affairs division, the city’s Greenhouse small business group, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development, the Pinellas Opportunity Council and the 2020 Plan Taskforce.
Support also came from the offices of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Castor.
Officials were joined at the press conference by City Council member Karl Nurse, candidate Will Newton, deputy mayor Kanika Tomalin and numerous other community leaders.