Pinellas County, FL – In the wake of local unemployment rates as high as 13%, in 2010 FAST won measures to create jobs through the expansion of small and locally owned businesses. Research showed there are over 54,000 Pinellas County residents that are currently unemployed, and 91% of the county’s businesses are small businesses, with less than 50 employees. One of the main problems faced by small businesses is getting access to financing or loans, yet more than 80% of small businesses depend on some sort of financing to grow their business. Recently the Pinellas County Economic Development held a lending fair, to assist small businesses in applying and getting approved for loans, with representation from over 25 business lenders. FAST is following up with PCED about designing and implementing a program in the county which would provide incentives to small businesses to help them create jobs. Mayor Foster of St. Petersburg has committed to doubling the amount of contracts and purchasing that goes to small businesses, from 5% to 10%, in the year 2011.