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Saturday, Jun 23, 2018
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East, West Tampa partnership could yield grant money

WEST TAMPA - Two nonprofit agencies are proposing a partnership they hope will make it easier for East and West Tampa neighborhoods to win grants for community projects. The proposal was among topics discussed at a community meeting Saturday at the West Tampa Public Library on Union Street. About 50 people attended the meeting sponsored by the West Tampa Community Development Corp. The West Tampa agency and the East Tampa-based Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa plan to forge a partnership to pursue grants, including those offered by the federal government. “They are going to mentor us,” said Michael Randolph, economic development director of the West Tampa nonprofit agency. East Tampa is farther along in its redevelopment efforts because it has had money from a special tax district to spend on various projects, Randolph said. “That’s going to be a key role, having somebody who has already done (redevelopment) already.”
The executive boards of both agencies will consider approving an agreement on the proposed partnership, Randolph said. Ernest Coney, the East Tampa group’s chief executive officer, outlined the proposal at Saturday’s meeting, held at the West Tampa Branch Library on Union Street. “There are a lot less federal funds coming down,” Coney said, largely due to the struggling economy. Federal agencies prefer to award grants to partnerships, and to programs that focus on job training and job placement, he said. The Corporation to Develop Communities has received several job-focused federal grants in which the agency collaborated with local businesses. The group currently is not seeking any specific grants, Coney said. A survey of West Tampa’s strengths and assets will be completed before identifying future projects and grant opportunities, he said. Randolph said he plans to schedule another community meeting in June. West Tampa has been the focus of a range of redevelopment proposals since a report issued last year by planners with the Urban Land Institute. Mayor Bob Buckhorn launched Invision Tampa, an ambitious project to redevelop the downtown core and surrounding neighborhoods. Among recommendations being considered for West Tampa is a redesign of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, the demolition and replacement of North Boulevard Homes public housing complex and redevelopment of a nearly 140-acre tract of land along the west bank of the Hillsborough River.

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