Control: Housing & Community Development Committee
File Name: SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS RE: COUNTY'S FY 2010-11 BUDGET
Agenda Date: 9/15/2010
Agenda Item Number:
CONCERNS OF THE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS REGARDING THE COUNTY’S FY 2010-11 BUDGET
Audrey M. Edmonson, Prime Sponsor
Housing & Community Development Committee
Assistant County Attorney Cynthia Johnson-Stacks read the title of the foregoing discussion item into the record.
Chairwoman Edmonson stated she understood that, due to budget cuts, the proposed cuts to personnel in the Procurement Management and Small Business Development Departments meant less procurements and slower payments to business owners, and would affect small businesses. Following reference to an email received from Mr. Menendez, regarding this issue, Commissioner Edmonson opened the floor for public comment and the following individual(s) appeared:
1) Ms. Ismailia Rashid, representing Community Small Business Enterprise (CSBE), Inc., 266 N.W. 26 Street, Miami, appeared and expressed concern regarding the proposed cuts to personnel in the County departments that provided assistance to CSBEs and other small businesses with regard to the certification process.
2) Mr. Evoral Jackson, President of Jackson Masonry, Inc., 30 N.E. 146 Street, spoke about the hardship he faced when seeking assistance with startup costs from banks and the Small Business Administration (SBA) for his construction-related small business, and requested the County Commission’s help.
3) Mr. Gregory Hannah, President of Direct Airline Services, Inc. at Miami International Airport appeared and concurred with Ms. Rashid’s comments regarding small business being greatly affected by cuts within the certification process. He asked for the Committee’s help in addressing this issue.
Chairwoman Edmonson asked staff to respond to the concerns expressed by the speakers.
Mr. Howard Piper, Special Assistant to the County Manager, advised that the County operated a program that served as guarantor for certain types of bank loans for small businesses. He noted, however, the County was not financially capable of administering loans to small firms. Regarding concerns related to the certification process, Mr. Piper stated staff was currently reviewing available resources to streamline and expedite the entire process. Pertaining to the Miscellaneous Construction Contract (MCC) 70/40 Plan, he stated he would investigate participation activity and determine whether staff was carrying out the Board’s directions.
Responding to Chairwoman Edmonson’s request for clarification on how the process would be streamlined, Mr. Piper explained that staff would be reviewing different approaches for distributing the workload and reassigning staff to expedite the certification evaluation process.
Commissioner Sorenson informed small business representatives that Revolving Loan Fund monies were available through the South Florida Regional Planning Council, and could be accessed online. She noted the need for small business owners to speak out, via email and news media, about how their businesses were being affected by the budget cuts and economic crisis.
Discussion ensued between Chairwoman Edmonson and Mr. Piper regarding a program in which the County served as guarantor for a percentage of small business loans issued by banks of up to $250,000. Chairwoman Edmonson asked the Small Business Development Department Director to consult with Mr. Jackson, who spoke earlier, to address his concerns during today’s proceedings.
Ms. Penelope Townsley, Small Business Development Department Director noted, for the record, that the SBD administered a loan guarantee program, which provided an 85 percent guarantee for a line of credit, up to $250,000. She continued that line of credit was collateralized by a County contract.
Discussion ensued between Commissioner Rolle and Ms. Singer regarding the length of time required for Mr. Hannah’s recertification process, including the overwhelming interest in the County’s programs (2,550 firms to date) and current economic conditions being major factors in the extensive delay in the recertification process. Efforts to address the current backlog included adding permanent staff and hiring temporary staff; approving overtime; and removing site visit requirements; as well as having an expedite list for firms seeking recertification that were bidding on projects.
Ms. Singer advised Committee members that staff would bring before the Board legislative amendments to further simplify the recertification program; continuing eligibility legislation that mimicked the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. She explained that rather than firms having to reapply every year, a more simplified process would allow continued eligibility.
Commissioner Rolle noted his concern was whether the mergers of some County departments/services with other departments benefited the public. He pointed out that if the recertification process was done faster in the SBD, it should not have been moved from that office.
There being no further questions or comments, the Committee concluded its consideration of this discussion item.
Housing & Community Development Committee
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