Local entrepreneurs find success with guidance from business navigator program

The Miami-Dade Small Business Resource Navigator project, headed up by the Florida SBDC at FIU Business (FSBDC), rounded out 2022 with strong results for local start-ups and growing small businesses – helping to launch five new ventures and assisting 700 already established throughout South Florida.

Funded under the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Community Navigator Pilot Program, the seven community navigator groups have collaborated to host in-person workshops, webinars and monthly resource fairs that have rotated around Miami-Dade County libraries and community centers. Through Dec. 2, a total of 97 events have drawn 2,436 attendees.

“The secret to our success in the first year is that we’re not being asked to do anything we don’t do normally here in Miami-Dade County, said Brian Van Hook, regional director of the FSBDC. “The Miami-Dade Business Navigator partners already collaborate, offer joint training, and make referrals to each other. SBA’s Navigator program has allowed us to scale up this collaboration, make it more structured, and build off the unique strengths of each group.”

Launched in 2021, the $2.5 million Navigator project provides one-on-one assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs, as well as women-owned and minority-owned businesses. Focus areas are business development, access to capital and financial assistance, contracting and procurement, as well as training, guidance in selecting resources, and networking opportunities.

This year, the startups and small businesses working with the local Navigator network have accessed $478,244 in capital and secured $24,353 in government contracts, Van Hook noted.

A key component of the program is the monthly Navigator resource fairs that bring together Navigator partners and other small business groups from around Miami-Dade to provide a “one-stop” event for entrepreneurs to connect with resource providers. Participants have included community development financial institutions, microlenders, economic development organizations and chambers of commerce.

“The resource fairs have been a big draw as entrepreneurs are busy running their businesses. Time is money. So, to be able to go to one place and meet with eight or 10 groups for one-on-one consulting or business resources is a game changer for them,” said Van Hook. “The resource fairs and training our group is conducting under the project is helping us to meet small businesses where they are in the community.”

The Navigator program, which will be active until the end of 2023, focuses on small businesses, including microbusinesses with fewer than 10 employees, as well as those owned by women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The FSBDC began offering services in Miami-Dade County in 2014 and expanded to Monroe County in October 2018.

The Miami-Dade Small Business Resource Navigator Accomplishments in 2022:

  • 5 businesses launched
  • 700 small businesses assisted
  • $478,244 in capital accessed
  • $24,353 in government contracts secured
  • 2,436 attendees at 97 training events

This story was originally published by FIU News and is being republished with permission.

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