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Mayor hosts Business Builder program

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Mayor Alvin Brown hosted his inaugural Business Builder program Tuesday, where small businesses learned more about available resources and tools necessary to compete and grow. Participants also received information on how to gain access to capital and credit.

More than 450 small business owners and entrepreneurs attended and learned more from instructional sessions that featured speakers, including Small Business Administration administrator Karen Mills, American Management Services' George Cloutier and First Oklahoma Bank's Tom Bennett.

"Helping to grow small businesses is a key objective in my mission to reduce unemployment and compete more vigorously in the global economy," Brown said. "Today's agreement is a major step toward helping entrepreneurs gain access to the tools they will need to turn their business visions into reality."

There are more than 80,000 small businesses in the northeast Florida region that provide a source of income for nearly 230,000 workers, managers and owners. Brown's Business Builder is a series of events designed to help entrepreneurs start and expand business on the First Coast. There was also a mini showcase expo for the participants.

A highlight of the summit was the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. Small Business Administration and the city of Jacksonville. The memo is a partnership joining the two entities together with a common mission to helping start, maintain and expand small businesses in the area.

It will help increase the resources available to entrepreneurs by increasing the city and administration's commitment to work together to help small businesses in Jacksonville gain access to capital and credit and better utilize the Small Business Administration's tools and services.

Mills told attendees that 23 percent of federal government contracts go to small businesses and that government does not create jobs -- small businesses create jobs.

"We are doing everything we can to foster an American economy built to last," Mills said. "Part of those efforts is to partner with local governments to help entrepreneurs. I want to applaud Mayor Brown for his efforts to help Jacksonville's small businesses. The Business Builder is one more step to make sure small businesses have the tools they need to do what they do best -- create and grow jobs."

The next Business Builder will take place May 17-18.