Monthly seminars are offered on how to write business proposals and grants and how to apply for a city contract. “There are a lot of businesses in the neighborhood that are feeling the brunt of a changing community,â€ says Woolridge, referring to the revitalization efforts on Sistrunk Boulevard, where a majority of the black-owned businesses are located.”We don’t want them to get lost.â€
In order for that not to happen, Woolridge made some changes. Last year, she made the most popular entrepreneurial workshop, “Doing Business with Broward County,â€ a monthly event at the center. The first half of the session is spent on the application process; the second half deals with submitting competitive bids for county projects. The workshop also informs local small businesses on opportunities to land contracts with Broward County through its certification programs.
It’s important for small businesses to be certified because it opens the door to sheltered market government contracts worth up to $250,000. Furthermore, through its Community Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (CDBE) program, the county requires prime contractors of large bids, some worth several million dollars, to earmark a percentage of subcontracts to minority-owned businesses.
“Although our business certification programs are race- and gender-neutral, we understand that minority-and women-owned businesses are becoming an increasing segment of the county’s small business community,â€ says Broward County small business development specialist Cheryl Roberts, adding that another timely county-wide workshop, “How to Survive a Hurricane,â€ helps businesses rebound after a natural disaster.
The center promotes economic development by working with new small businesses. In May, Woolridge moved in that direction, hiring career management consultant Gregory Burton. Burton’s company, TNG Associates Inc., offers educational workshops and management training for aspiring entrepreneurs.His two-hour seminar, “So You Want to Start a Business?â€ is held on the first Monday of every month.