Resources and perspectives for Florida small businesses
Joe Catrambone, president/CEO of the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce.
[Photo: Brook Pifer]
"There is at least a portion of small companies that are doing well in this economy — growing slowly and deliberately, hiring when they need to in a thoughtful manner, making sure they don't use any more of their cash than they need to."
— Thomas O'Neal, executive director,
• Seminole County and the Florida Economic Gardening Institute at the University of Central Florida have formed a partnership to promote job creation. The initiative will provide services and support for CEOs of second-stage businesses, generally defined by the initiative as for-profit businesses based in Seminole with between seven and 100 employees.
• Small businesses in Flagler County have a new source for free advice and consultations with the opening of the Palm Coast Business Assistance Center. The center launched last year at City Marketplace is a partnership of the city of Palm Coast and the UCF Small Business Development Center.
• Osceola County has created a "5-Day Fast Track" permitting process to encourage business formation as part of a new economic development outreach effort called We Speak Jobs.
• Sumter County created an online business resources page to promote business formation and expansion. The site, sumterbusiness.com/resources, has a list of local incentives, data, demographic information and other resources and helpful links.
• Lake County's Office of Economic Development and Tourism has started an annual economic summit. The inaugural event in November at Howey-in-the-Hills attracted more than 250 business and community leaders for an economic recovery strategy session.
• The National Entrepreneur Center moved from downtown Orlando to larger quarters with easier access and more parking at the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando. Formerly the Disney Entrepreneur Center, it is the main clearinghouse for small-business assistance in metro Orlando.
• The Metropolitan Business Association of Orlando, a regional chamber of commerce for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, opened its first permanent headquarters building in downtown Orlando's Thornton Park district in 2011. Founded in 1992, the organization has grown to more than 300 members and is expanding services.
• Volusia County and UCF have a new 8,000-sq.-ft. business incubation facility at Daytona Beach International Airport to foster small-business development in the region.
— Jerry Jackson
• JaxPort's Small and Emerging Business Program works to boost small, local firms with capital and procurement contracts. Port policy requires inclusion of small businesses and minority-owned firms in contract awards and projects whenever feasible. To participate, business owners must become certified through Jacksonville's Small and Emerging Business Program.
• The Jacksonville Aviation Authority has a Small Business Enterprise Program that gives preference to firms in Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Nassau or Baker counties.
— Cynthia Barnett
"Small firms in the northeast Florida region seeing the most success are those "that are very aggressively seeking new markets," especially international markets. "Traditionally, it was hard to get small businesses excited about exporting, but now they're seeing that they can do it."
— Janice Donaldson, regional director, Small Business Development Center at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville