From Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson
On Tuesday, December 12, 2017, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners approved and executed the annual grant agreements between Orange County and the Black Business Investment Fund, Inc. (BBIF) and Prospera (formerly referred to as the Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida, Inc. or HBIF), at their Board meeting. Funding in the amount of $146,912 was provided in the FY 2017-18 adopted budget for BBIF, and $133,650 for Prospera. Both organizations provide essential resources to residents of racial minorities who are seeking an opportunity to build a career in business. The purpose of this article is to inform those who are unfamiliar with these organizations of the many benefits that it provides and emphasize the importance of their contributions to Orange County.
BBIF Florida (BBIF) is a nonprofit, mission-driven, Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that helps Florida businesses thrive by providing loan capital alongside with business development training. In addition, BBIF helps to stabilize low-income, distressed neighborhoods by investing in economic development projects that stabilize communities and create jobs. Created in 1987 out of a Florida Statute, BBIF Florida was originally charged with the purpose of providing loan capital to black businesses in the Central Florida Community. The organization has grown from a small regional loan fund to Florida’s leading statewide lender that specializes in providing capital to black, other minority and underserved businesses.
Since its establishment, BBIF has provided over 385 loans totaling over $45.7 million, retaining and creating over 12,705 jobs. In 2015, the organization was awarded their first New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation of $20 million, and their second in 2016, with another identical allocation. BBIF has closed NMTC projects that have created over $64 million in economic development projects in underserved communities and created over 884 permanent jobs.
BBIF had interacted with over 3,250 business owners and professionals in Fiscal Year 2016 through its Financial Technical Assistance roundtable program.
This organization offers 5 different types of loans: The Black Business Loan Fund; Micro Loan Fund; Contract Financing Loan Fund; Small Business Loan Fund; and New Markets Tax Credit for Small Businesses. For more information on these loans and what they have to offer, residents access the following link: https://bbifflorida.com/products/.
BBIF also offers different forms of training for businesses. These forms of training include the following: Business Owners Roundtable; one-on-one counseling; and orientations. For more information on these forms of training and what each one has to offer, residents can go to the following link: https://bbifflorida.com/training/.
Prospera is an economic development, nonprofit organization that specializes in providing bilingual assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs who are trying to establish or expand their business. This organization empowers Hispanic entrepreneurs through training, support and resources so their businesses can grow and flourish. Prospera is able to serve entrepreneurs and the community without charging for its services, thanks to investments in its mission by generous corporations, individuals and government agencies.
With a business model created by Hispanic Entrepreneurs for Hispanic Entrepreneurs proven effective since 1991, Prospera’s services range from a broad-spectrum, from offering information about small business resources to establishing or expanding a business. Prospera clients can receive assistance from in-house business consultants, subcontracted experts, workshop presenters, and volunteers from various industries who serve on advisory committees. In addition, Prospera offers access to a network of corporate sponsors, government funders and financial institutions with a desire to support small and minority-owned businesses.
Prospera’s quality professional services include the following: Business seminars; consulting; grants; and access to capital. In the last 25 years of service, Prospera has consulted more than 13,000 entrepreneurs and has helped them to create or retain more than 15,000 jobs across the state. For more information on these services, residents can go to https://prosperausa.org/services-2/. In addition, Prospera also offers events, such as orientations and workshops, and grants, including Marketing Plans and Legal Assessments.
Last year, Prospera did the following: Helped clients create or retain 3,115 jobs; helped entrepreneurs apply for loans totaling at $8,922,112; offered ongoing consulting and support to 1,915 entrepreneurs in Florida; invested $335,505 in grants for subcontracted professional services to clients; and trained 4,729 entrepreneurs in business seminars in Spanish. Prospera’s total impact on the state’s economy has been $1.5 billion since 1991.
Both BBIF and Prospera are just 2 of a number of programs that Orange County funds to help support our small businesses and entrepreneurs.