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Jane Castor launches ‘Bridges to Business’ tour to bring opportunities to local owners

The goal is to meet entrepreneurs in the communities they serve.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor is launching a new program aimed at making it easier and more convenient for local business owners to work with the city.

Castor on Monday announced a new “Bridges to Business” program that will send city officials out into the community to certify or register businesses with the city. 

The “vendor certification tour” includes staff from the city’s Purchasing Department and Minority and Small Business Development Office.

The goal is to meet entrepreneurs in the communities they serve in order to connect them to information about opportunities to earn city contracts, which could be a boost for local business owners. 

“Bringing city services into the neighborhoods ensures local businesses have access to the tools they need to build a long-term relationship with the City,” Castor said.

“Improving the number of minority, woman-owned and small businesses that have an opportunity to bid on city projects … guarantees an inclusive, equitable and open process for all businesses to have a chance to thrive locally.”

The first stop on the tour will take place July 13 at the Cyrus Greene Community Center in East Tampa from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  

At that event, business owners or their representatives can learn how to do business with the city.  Staff will be on-site to walk firms through the application process for minority, woman-owned, or small business certification. Prime contractors and nonprofit organizations will also be on hand to provide information on current projects.   

The event is free to city business owners or their representatives, but space for one-on-one certification is limited. Businesses can register at the city’s Bridges to Business Tour webpage to better ensure space. 

The city has not yet announced its future stops. 

Improving relationships between local businesses and city government is a subset of one of Castor’s five targeted priorities for her administration.

It falls under the construction services goals, which seeks to ensure easy access to things like permitting and bidding. 

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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