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Rubio, Florida Small Business Development Center Hosts Tampa Small Business Expo

Men stand at table
Dylan Rudolph
WUSF Public Media
Senator Marco Rubio and the Florida Small Business Development Center hosted a Small Business Expo in Tampa on Tuesday. The event gave small business owners and entrepreneurs the chance to network and attend workshops.

Local small business owners had a chance to get some advice on improving their bottom line, as well as network with other entrepreneurs and city and county organizations in Tampa Tuesday.

Senator Marco Rubio's office teamed with the Florida Small Business Development Center to host a Small Business Expo.

Information tables lined the lobby of the Embassy Suites on the campus of the University of South Florida. Experts in marketing, capital access, international trade, and government contracting gave advice to existing small businesses as well as people interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

"Small businesses are the engines that drive thriving communities, creating dignified work, and powering our economy," Rubio said in a release. "I am pleased to partner with the Florida SBDC Network to bring beneficial programming and opportunities to small businesses in the Tampa area."

The event came a day after President Donald Trump said that the White House was planning to ask Congress to pass a payroll tax cut and relief for hourly workers who are experiencing financial difficulties during the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump said Monday that officials are working with the Small Business Administration and industries like airlines, cruise ships, and hotels, which are all facing drops in business.

Rubio will also convene a hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday that will focus on the short-term effect the virus is having on small businesses, as well as possible issues that may arise due to over-reliance on Chinese suppliers.

According to a press release from Rubio’s office, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship hearing will also look into "the role small businesses can play in expanding the capacity of the supply chain and what policy solutions may be needed to bolster small businesses' position globally."

The Tampa Expo featured keynote speaker Claire Lessinger, chief operating officer for the Business Connect & Community Outreach Division Tampa Bay Super Bowl LV Host Committee.

Lessinger told attendees how the Super Bowl, which will take place Feb. 7, 2021 at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, is an opportunity for local businesses to benefit by finding ways to take advantage of the massive event.

Business Connect, which is a partnership between the National Football League and the Host Committee, has been trying to get minority-owned and other diverse Tampa Bay vendors and businesses to take part in the Super Bowl and surrounding events.

READ MORE: Tampa Area Businesses Vie For Super Bowl 55 Spots

Jessica Tanner, who has a financial planning practice with Northwestern Mutual and is an ambassador for the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce, said that a focus on minority-owned business is a must considering the demographics of the area.

"There are a lot of diverse citizens that live here locally," she said. "Being an African-American female myself, I know that we all want a seat at the table."

Selphenia Nichols, founder of Seminars on Success and Success Coach to Woman, said that for small business owners like her to survive, they need to network at events like Tuesday’s expo.

“(You should) be sure to stay in connect with the Small Business Development Center,” she said. “Be sure to keep on the look-out for other Senator Marco Rubio business expos so that you can come out, get engaged, get the information you need to start and grow and expand your business."

Dylan Rudolph is the WUSF Radio News Intern for the spring 2020 semester.
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