Former Lakeland mayor asks city for $800,000 to help small minority businesses

One of Lakeland's former mayors is asking the city for $800,000 to help small businesses owned by minorities and others.

Former Lakeland Mayor Gow Fields wants the Black Business Investment Corporation and Prospera USA, which targets Latins, to set up shop in Lakeland. The organizations have been operating across the state for decades, including in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Both groups provide professional expertise, mentoring and guidance for free. They also make loans to start-ups that they might not have been able to get from a bank.

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"We have made loans for as little as $500 to a tradesman who needed the money to buy product to finish a job, and up to $150,000 for a chiropractor who was opening their business," James Randolph of the BBIC, told FOX 13.

Finding the money to help fund new projects is always a problem, though. Right now, the City of Lakeland is working on its budget priorities for the new fiscal year. 

Current Mayor Bill Mutz said this is one of his. 

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"The question is, why haven’t we done this before?" said Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz.

The issue will be brought up again before city council next month.