D.C.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray kicks off FastTrac program

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Despite the media attention and speculation about his 2010 campaign, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is continuing with his public schedule.

Tuesday, he launched a new program to help entrepreneurs in the District start small business.

Gray received a warm welcome from small business owners and residents in Southeast as he kicked off "FastTrac D.C."

"And we're trying to do everything we can to grow businesses, especially east of the River," Gray said.

Partnering with the Kauffman Foundation, the D.C. government aims to help about 260 entrepreneurs across the city launch or expand their businesses.

Harold Pettigrew, with the Department of Small and Local Business Development, said, "They very well may be at the idea stage or they might be operating but need additional assistance to understand how to operate better."

Like in other cities, the training program will be comprehensive, including topics such as marketing, legal filings and financing.

Throughout the event, Gray administration officials pointed out the mayor's success in growing the local economy and dropping the unemployment rate.

"This is a city that I think is just beginning to realize its position, and I want to be apart of it and I want to thank the Mayor," said Victor Hoskins, Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development.

But, reporters who cover City Hall are still focused on Gray's 2010 campaign.

Recently, Councilmember Jim Graham called on Gray to issue a formal statement and answer questions about the matter.

Gray said, "I saw Mr. Graham's statement just like you did and that, that's fine."

After several days of media coverage, the mayor appears to be growing frustrated by the questions and the distraction.

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