If you are a small business who does, or aspires to do, business with Pinellas County or any of its 24 municipalities, your life is about to get a little easier!

After identifying that only $70,000 of the $400 million in available contracts was going to small businesses, the county’s SBE (Small Business Enterprise) program decided it was time for a makeover.

First, let’s define what qualifies as a small business and their eligibility to participate:

  • Less than 50 employees
  • Located in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco or Manatee counties
  • Businesses cannot have annual sales that exceed three-year-average gross revenues of $3 million
  • Construction service providers cannot have gross revenues exceeding $8 million
  • Must participate in business development education and/or consulting

Now those first 4 are pretty definitive, but if you have any questions about the participation in education or consulting required, please feel free to reach out to 727-453-7200 Aubri Shauger-Haley or Jenee Skipper.

Since the county hired Morrison & Associates to assess the SBE Program last March, there has been considerable progress and improvements to the program’s accessibility.

There have been many meetings over the last year, with another to take place March 1st (details below), with hundreds of small business owners participating and providing feedback. The issues brought to the commission were mainly focused on access and support. Both of which are key components of the program’s modifications.

The program modifications already in place include:

  • Utilization of the B2GNow Diversity Management Software – This will allow for faster, easier notifications of contracts available to qualified vendors
  • “Unbundling” of bids – This allows for more than one vendor to work on one job, and use of vendor certification reciprocity, which would allow vendors certified in another county and city to be eligible for work in Pinellas and vice versa
  •  Sheltered market increase from $5,000 to up to $100,000 for qualified vendors to bid on county purchases
  • Hiring of 4 new employees – two to work in Economic Development and two to work in Purchasing

Obviously being able to bid on larger projects is exciting, but this faster/easier access to contracts and support are what is going to make this program more profitable for small businesses than ever before.

Progress continues, but your feedback as a small business is critical to future success!

Another local conversation will be held Friday, March 1, 9-11 a.m., at the St. Petersburg College Epicenter.  County departments will be attending, as well as representatives from the School District, PSTA and cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater. For more information, call 727-453-7781 or email Jenee Skipper at jskipper@pinellascounty.org.