A NEW MISSION
2018 brings opportunity for Miami’s small businesses
By: Janiah Adams
A new year gives Black small businesses the opportunity for growth and new connections.
With new programs in Miami launching and existing programs amping up their engagement, Black small businesses can use these resources to make this year better than the last.
The city of Miami launched a Procurement Outreach Program for Small Businesses (POP-UP SHOP) that gives small businesses the opportunity to network, seek support and resources. They held the first of many events earlier this month.
“I wanted to increase competition in the city of Miami by registering more vendors. It’s really to reach out to more small businesses in the city of Miami and even the county,” said Annie Perez, director of procurement for the city of Miami. “We also wanted to learn any obstacles they might face by analyzing the city. See how we can give feedback.”
POP-UP SHOP is not only a way for small businesses to connect with each other, but it is also a way for small businesses to connect with larger companies and the city, Perez said. For example, if small businesses think the city’s insurance requirements are too harsh, the city could find a way to work with business owners, Perez said.
“Also, we wanted them to interact on a one-on-one basis with other agencies,” Perez said. “For example, if they can’t get on a contract with me, perhaps their services are needed in Coral Gables or the school board. Opportunities to meet other local agencies they may not have access to.”
The POP-UP SHOP has attracted people from outside the country. Perez said at their last event earlier this month one woman who attended was one of the largest shippers in Peru and is going to open an office in Miami.
“We had a gentleman who does audio visual [work], but he also has cool drones. All different people from different walks of life,” Perez said.
POP-UP SHOP’s next event will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30 and will focus on landscaping, parks related maintenance and lot clearing. The event is free and participants will meet at Grapeland Heights Park Community Center, 1550 NW 37th Avenue.
While POP-UP SHOP’s primary focus is the city of Miami, The Miami-Dade Beacon Council, a the economic development arm of Miami-Dade County, focuses on job creation for the county.
Sheri Colas-Gervais, vice president of economic development and urban initiatives for the Beacon Council, said their resource guide answers many frequently asked questions of small business owners.
“There are so many resources available for small businesses at no cost. Often, the barrier is that people don’t know about them,” Colas-Gervais said. “Businesses are always looking for how to get started. The popular questions are how to get funded. There are a number of resources available.”
Experts from the Beacon Council also meet with business owners at no cost to help assess their business, Colas-Gervais said.
The Beacon Council has an Urban Initiative Taskforce that focuses solely on underserved communities. It consists of leaders in the Black community, Colas- Gervais said.
“We have quarterly advisory roundtables and community liaisons,” Colas-Gervais said. “We stimulate opportunities for our Black businesses in each of the target industries. There is a sub-task force that identifies access to capital opportunities.”
The Beacon Council has also partnered with Urban Philanthropies, a South Florida-based organization that aims to transform distressed urban communities through economic and community development activities, to put on a hiring event in February.
“The goal is to have 1000 people hired in jobs on the spot,” Colas-Gervais said. “They are working on the corporate sponsors and companies that will be there. It will be in all fields.”
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