Nearly a dozen local Black and Hispanic-owned companies in Jacksonville will be enrolled in a program aimed at helping small businesses win government contracts.
The city announced a partnership Monday with the First Coast Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Jacksonville Black Chamber of Commerce. The effort will try to increase the number of companies participating in the city’s Small and Emerging Business Program
The University of North Florida’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program will conduct classes, which help businesses sharpen their proposals for local, state and federal projects. The program has helped scores of local businesses since it was established in 1985.
The first cohort of the new partnership will begin in April. It includes CPAs, restaurants, attorneys and construction firms.
First Coast Hispanic Chamber President Monica Hernandez said the partnership will develop a deeper reserve of companies that governments can rely on for procurement.
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“It’s an intentional move to make sure that our communities are going to get the access to the contracts that is ultimately going to benefit our communities, and really, the community at large,” Hernandez said. “Because I do strongly believe that if we as Hispanics, as African Americans, are successful, so is the community at large.”
Once Mayor Lenny Curry signs the memorandum of understanding between the city and the chambers, the marketing and recruitment partnership will last for one year.
Dinah Mason, the administrator for the city’s Equal Business Opportunity Office, said the partnership is part of a broader effort within the Small and Emerging Business Program that will provide technical assistance to Hispanic and Black-owned companies.
The city’s Small and Emerging Business program has 317 companies in its vendor directory. This year it will reconsider qualifications for the program in order to incorporate more companies.
“One thing we do need, we do need to have strong businesses to be able to participate within the city and in our contracting opportunities,” Mason said.