Supplier Diversity Digest: A newsletter from the Office of Supplier Diversity
August 2017
Office of Supplier Diversity Kicks off Mentor-Protégé Program for Small Businesses

The Office of Supplier Diversity (OSD) executed an initial agreement between two certified small business enterprises to launch the Mentor-Protégé Program. This program helps small businesses by pairing up a mentor company with experience in securing government contracts and a protégé company concentrated in a similar industry. United Data Technologies, Inc. (UDT), a minority-owned business in Tampa that specializes in information technology consulting, will serve as the mentor to protégé TriOrb Solutions, LLC, a certified minority- and veteran-owned business in St. Petersburg.

To read the full article, click here.

Open My Florida Business Portal Launched by DBPR

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) has unveiled the state’s new Business Information Portal, a website designed to help Floridians set up and run a business in the Sunshine State. Using the new site,, prospective business owners enter their business category and the portal creates a checklist to help them understand the governmental requirements for the business. A downloadable eGuide is also available on the portal.

Four Questions with Jane Dowgwillo, Florida SBDC Network Government Contracting Services Manager
Provided by the Florida SBDC Network

1. How does the Florida SBDC Network help small businesses compete for government contracts? Through the Florida SBDC Network’s Government Contracting Service offering, the network employs government contracting specialists who can help your company evaluate, plan, register, prepare, pursue and achieve contracts with the federal, state and local government. In addition to the network’s no-cost consulting services, the network also offers hundreds of events and workshops throughout the year, including introduction to government contracting, marketing to the government and finding contracting opportunities. The Florida SBDC can also help you find information related to government contracts, including federal and military specifications and standards, commercial and data item descriptions and agency procurement histories and forecasts.

2. I applied for a contract in the past, but was not successful. What can I do? Always request a debriefing. Be sure to ask who won the contract, how you can improve for the next opportunity and what future opportunities will be available.

3. I am a small company and wear many hats. How can I still pursue government-contracting opportunities as part of my business strategy? As part of our service offering, the Florida SBDC Network offers small businesses access to BidMatch. BidMatch can help you save significant time and money by notifying you about relevant federal, state and local contract opportunities via email. 

4. Where can I learn more about the Florida SBDC’s Government Contracting Services? To learn more, please visit us online at

Provided by Cheryl Seals Gonzalez, Chairperson, Florida Advisory Council on Small and Minority Business Development

The Florida Advisory Council on Small and Minority Business Development (Council) is a resourceful advisor on small and minority business policy that relies upon its members, constituent networks, professional volunteers and the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS) staff. The council does not manage programs; it reviews and recommends policy. Its members take heart in positive growth and development, understanding that the changes to help small businesses grow is a marathon and not a sprint having advanced over the last decade.


Nearly a decade ago, the council voted on a vision of principled delivery of products, goods and services needed by state agencies and quasi-state entities through a more vibrantly inclusive supplier diversity culture. Some of many recommendations focused on business growth and job creation in Florida's race and gender-neutral business landscape.


To read the full article including recommendations and outcomes, click here.

Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program
Provided by Veterans Florida

In partnership with seven state universities/colleges, the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program has established itself as one of the most extensive and groundbreaking entrepreneurship programs in the nation, if not the world. The program’s curriculum, based on Steve Blank’s Lean Startup method, utilizes online and in-person training and has a laser like focus on one-on-one mentorship. The program culminates with a business pitch competition that’s more of a “dolphin tank” rather than a “Shark Tank.”

For the 2016-17 class, out of 467 applicants, 300 veterans were invited to attend the intensive 15 week course. By mid-January, 267 accepted the challenge and 147 veterans graduated in May. Overall, the class had a graduation rate of 55 percent, logged more than 3,300 hours of mentoring by facilitators and mentors and raised/awarded $62,750.00 of seed money by seven state universities/colleges for pitch competition winners.

Much of the program’s success can be attributed to the collaborative work between Veterans Florida and its partner universities and colleges. In just two years, the program has grown its alumni network to 315 veteran entrepreneurs across the state and many alumni have their businesses up and running. 

“Veterans and entrepreneurship are a natural fit. Military service provides veterans with attributes that every entrepreneur needs such as tenacity, determination, attention to detail and discipline. Those attributes combined with the technical skills many of our veterans acquired through their military services is a powerful combination that will help our veteran entrepreneurs build Florida’s future economy,” says Bobby Carbonell, Veterans Florida’s Executive Director.

For more information, visit .
Florida Department of Transportation's Business Development Initiative
The Business Development Initiative (BDI) was designed to support the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) efforts to boost competition, lower prices and increase support to meet its contracting needs. The BDI provides more opportunities and support for small businesses to move from subcontracting and subconsulting to prime contracting and consulting roles.

The initial phase was implemented in fiscal years 2006-07 and 2007-08, with the first six months using District Two as the pilot, followed by the remaining districts in January 2007. During that time, different strategies were implemented to determine and increase the competition without adversely affecting the end product. Some of the strategies used that would provide an opportunity for businesses who would not typically bid on DOT contracts are as follows: 
  • Reserving construction and maintenance contracts for small businesses.
  • Waiving performance bond requirements and modifying bid bond requirements for contracts under $250,000.
  • Using the modified qualification process instead of the standard prequalification process for construction and maintenance projects. 

The department received approval from Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to use the BDI on federally funded projects in March 2009, being the first of its kind, nationally, to be considered. In 2013, DOT increased its BDI goals to 10 percent of all work types for contracts reserved for small business competition. 

In April 2016, Governor Scott signed House Bill 7027 to include the establishment of a Business Development Program to assist small businesses in obtaining contracts with DOT. The bill went into effect July 1, 2016, and is now a FDOT way of business. (FS 337.027)
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The content of this newsletter is intended to serve as informational only.  It should not be construed as business advice or an endorsement of any particular organization by the Office of Supplier Diversity or the Florida Department of Management Services.