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Tampa agencies get $2.4-million from state

Two local agencies will get a total of $2.4-million from the state as part of an effort to stimulate economic growth in needy areas, the governor's office announced Friday.

The Tampa-Hillsborough Urban League and the Corporation to Develop Communities are among 15 groups statewide to receive a chunk of a $4.2-million "Toolkit" grant to help pay for major programs.

The Urban League will receive close to $1.5-million and the Corporation to Develop Communities will get almost $1-million _ the two biggest grants doled out Friday.

The Urban League will use its money to provide leadership training for business owners and other neighborhood residents in the West Tampa area, said Joanna Tokley, the Urban League's president and chief executive officer.

Residents will be trained in painting, landscaping, maintenance and computer repair. The money also will fund the opening of three businesses _ in landscaping, maintenance and computers _ and a day care center.

"I'm ecstatic for the residents of West Tampa," Tokley said Friday. "For the first time, we have an opportunity to put people to work and change the face of their community."

The Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa Inc. will use its grant of $983,775 to support an ongoing project designed to create more than 2,000 jobs over five years.

The money will pay for training for entrepreneurs who want to learn about e-commerce and international trade. It also will aid first-time home buyers and new business owners and help business owners around the port beef up their export trade, said Toni Watts, vice president of operations for the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa.

"It's fantastic," she said.