Posted on November 13, 2018 · Posted in Uncategorized

Broward County came out in favor of less traffic and more public transportation on Nov. 6, when voters agreed to raise the county’s sales tax to fund almost $16 billion in transportation improvements.

That’s not only good news for anyone who lives in or commutes through the county – it’s also a win for small businesses, local business groups and economic agencies say. The new tax will bankroll more than 700 projects over the next 30 years, and local small businesses are guaranteed a cut of the action.

“The surtax could result in $45 million in annual awards to Broward small businesses, which is a win for our community,” said Dana Pollitt, chair of the Broward Economic Development and Small Business Advisory Board and spokesperson for Go Broward, which advocated for the passage of the surtax. “Businesses need to be ready to get involved.”

Beginning Jan. 1, Broward’s sale tax will increase from 6 cents to 7 cents for every dollar of taxable goods purchased. The tax is expected to raise at least $300 million for transportation projects in its first year. The Broward County Board of Commissioners ruled 30 percent of contracts related to the surtax, which could add up to as much as $45 million annually, should go to county small businesses.

“It’s fantastic for the county because these projects will feed money directly to Broward businesses, and from there to their employees, families and community,” said Bob Swindell, president and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance.

Sandy McDonald, director of the Broward County Office of Economic and Small Business Development (OESBD), said long-term projects slated for funding could results in months or years of work for some area businesses.

“These projects aren’t just quick-hitters. We have the opportunity to engage local businesses and help small businesses scale up, expand and grow beyond Broward,” McDonald said.

The sales tax will fund scores of projects across Broward’s 31 municipalities, including the construction and widening of new roadways, the construction of a proposed light rail, and the creation of 72 miles of bike lanes, 40 miles of sidewalks, and 95 miles of greenways for pedestrians. That presents opportunities for local construction, architectural, engineering and real estate firms, McDonald said. So, how can businesses get in on the action?

“The first thing a business would need to do is get a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) certification so they are eligible to bid on Broward County procurement contracts,” McDonald said.

SBE-certified firms are given first consideration for county contracts under $250,000. To qualify, a business must be located in Broward, be independently operated with a maximum of 15 full-time employees, and functioning for at least year prior to submitting an application for certification. Business owners who apply must have a personal net worth below $1.3 million.

“From there,” McDonald said, “the OESBD will host community outreach events, send out regular newsletters with updates about contract bids, and organize several meet-and-greets with general contractors and developers to help local certified businesses land contracts. We will pack the room with Broward business owners. They can meet with contractors and developers, and make connections that will hopefully lead to contracts.”

 

Source: SFBJ

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