THE BAJA POST
SOURCE: PRN MEDIA
The City of Lakeland has approved funding for up to three years for Prospera to bring more resources to local Hispanic-owned businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. Prospera is an economic development, 501(c)(3) organization founded in Tampa in 1991, and specialized in bilingual services to help start, sustain, or grow Hispanic-owned businesses to achieve community prosperity. The latest U.S. Census Bureau statistics reported over 18,000 Hispanics in the City of Lakeland and over 166,000 in Polk County—which constitutes nearly 30 percent of the county’s population.
“The City of Lakeland’s commitment to inclusive economic opportunity is stronger than ever, and this partnership with Prospera ensures that Hispanic-owned small businesses and Hispanic entrepreneurs, whether established or aspiring, will have access to no cost, individualized support critical to their success,” said Brian Rewis, City of Lakeland Director of Community & Economic Development
The funding from the City of Lakeland will increase access for local Hispanics to Prospera’s program, which was developed by a Hispanic business owner who experienced and understood the additional challenges and barriers to success that Hispanic entrepreneurs face in business.
Prospera will deliver individual, confidential and ongoing consulting services in Lakeland to aspiring and established Hispanic business owners, in addition to entrepreneurial seminars in Spanish, help to access business capital, and additional resources, such as professional services delivered by a vetted network of experts, which are vital for a solid business foundation and sustainable growth.
All services are offered by Prospera at no cost to clients, thanks to the funding received from the City of Lakeland and other public and private contributors.”
After decades serving Lakeland residents from Prospera offices on either end of the I-4 Corridor, we are very pleased to establish a year-round, local presence in Lakeland for the first time,” stated Prospera West Coast of Florida Regional Vice President Fabian Yepez. “When Hispanic business owners succeed, they not only provide for themselves and their families; they also contribute to their communities, job creation, and local tax revenues. We look forward to complementing Lakeland’s existing entrepreneurial ecosystem and making a positive impact, one entrepreneur at a time.”
The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce’s partnership will be instrumental in Prospera’s local service delivery. In addition to hosting local seminars at the chamber and at The Well Lakeland, Prospera’s satellite office will be located within the chamber to facilitate meetings and ongoing support to clients.
“It’s our job to create a climate where business can prosper, and this partnership strengthens Lakeland business climate with proven programs,” said Lakeland Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Amy Wiggins. “The growing Hispanic population in Lakeland will contribute to Florida’s status as a leader in Hispanic-owned businesses with employees.
And, successful businesses support successful communities.”Maria Alejandra Villasmil and Jose Torres are Lakeland residents who have been clients of Prospera for several years and were recognized last year as Success Stories Honorees for their successful businesses, M&J Trade & Logistics and M&J Customs. They traveled to Prospera’s West Coast Regional office in Tampa to attend meetings or seminars, and more recently to volunteer for the organization.