Hillsborough County's Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC) in Ybor City recently started hosting its live, virtual panel discussions, each focusing on a different small business sector, on the second Friday of each month at 9 a.m. The Local Stories Live series lets participants connect with local successful small business owners for lively discussions on what it takes to survive and thrive as a small business.

Hillsborough County’s Entrepreneur Collaborative Center (ECC) in Ybor City recently started hosting its live, virtual panel discussions, each focusing on a different small business sector, on the second Friday of each month at 9 a.m.

The Local Stories Live series lets participants connect with local successful small business owners for lively discussions on what it takes to survive and thrive as a small business.

The 30-minute discussions will each feature three different local business leaders and will be followed by a brief question and answer period. Established business owners, entrepreneurs and anyone interested in the local business community are invited to participate in the sessions and learn why supporting local makes all the difference in Hillsborough County.

The ECC is a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and business owners.

“We have the best ECC consultants in Hillsborough County on-site, where they can meet one-on-one with business owners and entrepreneurs looking to start their own business or get business advice if they are already in business,” said David Garza-Manahan of the ECC. “We also have numerous weekly events from our community partners.”

The ECC recently held the first Local Stories Live this past May, called ‘Papa’preneurs—Dad’s in Business. The session featured local business owners Yanko Maceda of Tabanero Cigars in Ybor City, Robert Torres of Blind Tiger Cafe and Greg Gutierrez of Idle VR.

“These three business [owners] showcased what their businesses do in our community and each talked about their journey on becoming successful business owners,” Garza-Manahan said. “We did this in recognition of Father’s Day.”

The next Local Stories Live will be held on Friday, July 9 and is called Made in America.

“We will be showcasing local businesses here in Tampa that make their products locally,” Gaza-Manahan said.

The ECC has received some very positive feedback on these sessions thus far.

“It has been great and the feedback has been extremely positive,” Garza-Manahan said. “The business owners love it because so many people visit these businesses on a daily basis, but they don’t know who owns them. These sessions allow the community to get to know the owners and it makes them feel more connected to them.”

To learn more about the ECC or if you’d like to attend one of its Local Stories Live sessions, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/locations/entrepreneur-collaborative-center. The ECC is located at 2101 E. Palm Ave. in Ybor City. Its hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.