By Michelle Grace, Head of Chase for Business in the Southeast

Tampa Bay is rising. Fast.

In the last few years, entrepreneurship in the city has continued to grow and Tampa is now among the top 25 cities for small business activity according to the Kauffman Index. Opportunity, however, still abounds. Especially among the younger set, and veterans. Last year, we celebrated the first ever Tampa Startup Week. It was a graduation, so to speak, for events that began as weekend gatherings to promote a sense of community and help startups network , with the idea of accelerating their growth.

This year, we are kicking off our five day celebration on February 8th, and more than 70 events are planned around 13 tracks, all over the city. A good place to visit for information and to congregate is #ChaseBaseCamp at District 13– a place for mentoring hours, marquee events, information, networking and happy hours to recharge and refresh.

Chase saw the potential in these events and the bank committed support to 8 cities leading Startup Weeks this year—community organized events, with autonomy to bring together great experts and deliver content that is specific to each city’s individual entrepreneurial profile. For us in Tampa, that means offering events designed to help veterans start and grow businesses, ignite more craft brewers to become a success story like Cigar City, or spark the creation of the next big player in the Internet of Things—locally. Local business growth is what fuels Chase for Business. The bank works with 4 million businesses nationwide, more than 260,000 in Florida— where we approved $800 million in loans in 2015— and thousands in the Greater Tampa Bay Area. And because our team works in our city, and knows our unique environment, they are helping many businesses grow. But we know there is more to do and we are looking for ways to support the full cycle of small businesses—Startup Week, and our work with SBA, are examples of how we are working to provide access to capital, but also advice, knowledge, and community resources.

Join us at Startup Week to become part of a great community built by and for entrepreneurs—because when you are in the thick of building your business, it’s good to know there are others out there who can become vendors, suppliers, friends, supporters and customers.