Broward County has 4.2 billion dollars worth of contracts
This magazine talked to Dr. Barbara Sharief, Broward County Commissioner, about business opportunities for Hispanics and small business owners throughout the County.
“Each year, Broward County is writing in their bidding, 4.2 billion dollars worth of contracts,” said the District 8 Commissioner. “And what we did in the commission is that there is a minimum threshold of participation of 25% on all contracts throughout Broward County for CBE’s (County Business Enterprise), and that is really good”.
–La Familia de Broward: What is happening right now in Broward County in terms of entrepreneurship?
-Dr. Barbara Sharief: Right now, we all know that small businesses are the driver of the economy. What we are seeing is that more female, more ethnic minorities and Hispanics businesses are opening up in the areas of medicine, research and aeronautics. We’ve had a huge growth of small businesses from job creations with Hispanics and African American businesses here in Broward County.
-LF: Do you have the percentage of that growth?
-BS: I don’t have it off the top of my head but I can tell you we have the lowest unemployment rate of any large county of the United States.
-LF: Can you tell us the contribution of the energetic Hispanic community here in Broward?
-BS: First of all, we have one of the largest container ports of the United States and have more trade to Latin America and the Caribbean than ever before. Many of those businesses are anchored in our foreign trade zones. Those zones are areas where you can export or import your products and do business with lower tax rates because you are not paying tax twice. We have done that from Broward County because we understand there is the need to export. I think this is one of the key areas of growing the Hispanic community but also, we see growth in electronics, audiovisual, healthcare and the insurance industry; It’s so diverse. I think is a really good time to start a business in Broward County.
Small businesses are the driver of the economy
-LF: What are the goals of the commission, where is Broward heading?
-BS: Broward has taken a role in this conference, Business and Beyond, in trying to certified small businesses to do business with the county. Historically, there has been a monopoly of large companies who have a lot of experience; they compete and they knock out small businesses. We have revamped our program where we give more points to minority companies to stay here in Broward and people who are headquartered in the County to get additional points for local preference. We have done a tremendous job revamping our ordinance to include small businesses. What this means is that we will help you from point A to Z, on how to write a business plan, how to make a business proposal and making your first bid. This is about engaging the small community to become vendors for Broward County and for the owners of small businesses to gain financing, to go to our business program. We have a very rich program. We say, you are struggling? well let’s take the bull by its horns.
-LF: How the transportation surtax will help small businesses?
-BS: We stablish 30% of participation of CBE’s (County Business Enterprise)
-LF: Is there something that you want to share with our readers?
-BS: We welcome you to Broward County and ask you to go to the Office of Economic Business Development and to our ‘Broward means business program’ and we will like to take you from the start. From the conception of your business or if you already have a business and you are struggling, we will help you to look ways to diversifying and growing your business and we will assist you in going ahead and get you certified not only in Broward but in the state of Florida. Once you are certified throughout the state of Florida you can participate virtually in any contract out there. Broward Business and Beyond is part of what we are doing but if you didn’t come today you can contact the Office of Small Business at www.broward.org and click on Office of Small Business and Economic Development and enroll in one of our programs.