Kathy Castor to promote veteran entrepreneurs in advance of Small Business Saturday
Kathy Castor touts rescue funds for Tampa charities. Image via AP.

The Congresswoman will highlight American Rescue Plan support for a Hillsborough Community College program.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor says Tampa Bay is ready for Small Business Saturday.

And that’s partly thanks to funding for entrepreneur programs in the American Rescue Plan.

She will host an event today, Nov. 21, highlighting local entrepreneurs and encouraging support for local businesses. At the LAB Theater Project in Ybor City, Castor will share a podium with: Hillsborough Community College President Ken Atwater, LAB Theatre Project founder Owen Robertson, Chris Baez of mobile gym Iron Sharpens Iron Fitness, Brandon Dutkiewicz of Support A Troop, and Frankie Valle of Esthete Beard Company.

According to the Tampa Democrat’s office, the event’s focus will be promoting the upcoming Small Business Saturday. Taking place after Black Friday during the biggest shopping day of the year, the national Shop Small movement encourages individuals to spend their money at locally owned businesses across the country.

Castor said she supports keeping money in the local economy as much as possible.

“When you shop in a local small business, the money stays in our community — studies say for every $100 spent at a local small business, $68 stays in the community rather than going to far-flung big-box chains,” Castor told Florida Politics. “That translates into local jobs and dollars invested in the Tampa Bay area. This year, I am highlighting local veteran-owned businesses, especially those boosted by [email protected], so you can support local businesses and pay it back to veterans who served us.”

From a policy perspective, the event also serves as a chance to promote the local impact of the American Rescue Plan. The spending package, a priority of President Joe Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress, included funding support for Hillsborough Community College’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Training Symposium, which earlier this month held the 10th event for veterans embarking on entrepreneurship to present business pitches.

Castor attended the October event and honored continued service by veterans in the community.

The entrepreneurs spotlighted at today’s event are also all veterans who became entrepreneurs. Baez, a personal trainer, previously served in the Air Force, according to his LinkedIn page. Dutkiewicz served in the Army and now serves as CEO of a business delivering customer care packages to deployed troops. Valle served in the Army before becoming chief formulator at a company selling grooming products.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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