By Valeria Rodriguez and Kayla Hartigan
Jacksonville has seen a lot of new small businesses grow in the last five years. The city is aware of how much new businesses can help boost the economy and create new jobs.
The Small Business Development Center is a great example of a resources available to help keep this growth continue to increase. The center provides management assistance and training to prospective and existing small business in North Florida. With their assistance a business can become more successful and contribute positively to the economic growth and stability of Florida. The SBDC has many partners including the City of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, and the UNF College of Business. These partners believe in the mission of the center and are ready to provide many resources to owners of small businesses, in order for them to achieve their goals.
Recently the SBDC has tried to focus on the growth of Hispanic business in Duval County. Veronica Bolado is a consultant at the SBDC and focuses specifically on helping the Hispanic community. Bolado said that the growth of the small Hispanic business has really boomed in the last 15 years. She remembers a time when finding a Hispanic restaurant in Jacksonville was nearly impossible, and now you have many options to choose from.
The center understands that the struggles of a non-Hispanic business can be different from Hispanic business. That is why they have partnered with the First Coast Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to create workshops and network opportunities to make sure the needs of Hispanic business are meet.
The SBDC has helped thousands of business in North Florida, and have lots of success stories. A great example is Mambo’s Café, a Cuban restaurant owned by Raul Arias. He remembers being new to the city and not being sure where he should open his business, or what type of clientele to cater to. Arias received help from the SBDC finding capital and pinpointing the best location for his business.
Arias agrees that the struggles of a Hispanic business might be different, but those struggles are not a reason to keep going with the business you are passionate about. He said “Jacksonville is growing, the United States economy is growing, and it is a perfect time to start a business if that is really what you want to do. Do your research, get help, but don’t be discouraged.”
The services provided by the SBDC are completely free, and they have consultants ready to help any type of small business. Whether you have an existing business or a business idea you can get help to grow. For more information check their website sbdc.unf.edu.