Resources and perspectives for Florida small businesses
Joe Catrambone, president/CEO of the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce.
• Throughout Florida, companies that avoided government work in the past because of red tape or other concerns are seeking it in the downturn. Small Business Development Centers can help companies interested in federal, state and local contracting figure out if they're eligible for preferences. In addition to programs for women- and minority-owned businesses, there are those for service-disabled vets and for companies in certain economic-disadvantaged zones.
• Partners for Self Employment is one of the few remaining county-supported small-business assistance entities working with micro-businesses providing business counseling and loans.
• The Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida caters to Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs with free seminars and funding. It recently opened a Miami chapter.
• Although many of Launch Pad's programs are available only to University of Miami students and alumni, this month it launches a free intensive technology training program open to the entire Miami-Dade community. The program will offer four months of training in several programming languages, along with mentoring from experts as programmers work on their own projects. The goal is to encourage entrepreneurship and make sure the local workforce has the skills that local tech companies need: thelaunchpad.org
• Refresh South Florida puts on regular events and workshops.
— Rochelle Broder-Singer
"It's been a very uneven year. But I'm starting to see a lot more requests for financing of fixed assets, and I think that's a good sign because it shows that people are starting to get back their confidence. ... Two industries that are performing above average are hospitality and the healthcare industry. The rest — it's really scattered."
— Omar Ojeda, senior vice president and lender,
"The success has been companies in the range of 10, 20 years old, established companies that we call second stage. I think those are the ones who are going to bring the economy back to where it was before. Small, established companies are the ones who are willing to take the risk and hire more people because they're going to increase sales eventually from looking to new markets."
— Carlos Cardenas, regional director,
"There's a startup called Pikchur. In the last few months, they've gotten investment from Microsoft and Nokia. ... (Then there's) CareCloud, raising $8 million locally and then $20 million in Silicon Valley. That has shown people that not only can a south Florida company raise a significant amount locally, but then also can be the top in the world. ... There are a lot of world-class tech people who work in Miami but work remotely for companies in California and Boston. There are a lot of people working out of their homes, working on nights and weekends on their startups."
— Susan Wills Amat, executive director, The Launch Pad,