By Marsha Mullings
South Florida is famous for its beautiful year-round weather, humidity and hurricanes notwithstanding. It is a paradise for locals and tourist alike – we all look forward to spending balmy afternoons in the outdoors.
South Florida is more than just beautiful weather though, and here in Fort Lauderdale, we can also boast about having a welcoming business climate. The city has evolved beyond its Spring-break haven days and is now more known for attracting company headquarters and entrepreneurs, than for entertaining partying spring-breakers.
The absence of a state in-come tax makes this area an especially attractive place for business. Greater Fort Lauderdale has more than 200 corporate and regional headquarters. Many of the businesses take advantage of our position, in the heart of South Florida, as the global gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean. A diverse, multilingual population enhances our attractiveness to companies seeking to do business in the Latin Ameri-can/Caribbean region.
Our vibrant and increasingly innovative business landscape should provide a boon of opportunities for those interested in starting and running businesses. There is however, an apparent disconnect between the opportunities available for business creation and expansion, and access to the resources necessary to utilize those opportunities, particularly for individuals in low-resource communities.
There is a wide array of benefits for starting and expanding businesses in Fort Lauderdale. Many of these are business loans through traditional banks and venture capitalists, but there are also business incubators and accelerators, tax credit schemes and public-private partnership opportunities, among others. There are numerous opportunities for business education and training, as well as mentorship programs for new business owners. The Office of Economic and Small Business Development at Broward County is a treasure trove of information and resource for individuals wishing to start a business or for those seeking to expand an existing business.
Fort Lauderdale and South Florida have an attractive landscape for business and economic development, particularly for small businesses and startups. Taking advantage of these opportunities and having access to the resources to do so should be simple and straightforward.
Our governing bodies as well as local community leaders and media resources must improve the processes for disseminating information about these resources. Moreover, our communities need better processes for placing these resources at the source: in the hands of the people and at the doors of the organizations that are best suited to providing access to the knowledge and resources available to all in our communities.
General business re-sources:
* Office of Economic and Samll Business Development, Broward County – works to promote business and economic development for the country.
* Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance – mission is to create a diversified economy in the country by building public/private partnerships and driving business growth initiatives.
* Enterprise Florida – a public/private partnership that facilitates economic development and business growth.
* Minority Business Development Agency – provides management, technical assistance, construction services and free seminar training.
* SCORE – offers small business advice, seminars and workshop. Many are free of charge.