Government agencies helping to advance businesses owned by minorities and women

(L to R)Jabaree Allen, co-owner of Business Automation Pros; Al Latimer, Director, Tallahassee-Leon County Office of Economic Vitality; Tavalas Ancrum, co-owner of Business Automation Pros; Ben Pingree, Director of PLACE; Darryl Jones, OEV Deputy Director for the MWSBE Division
Photo special to the Outlook



By Shaqueria Howard
Outlook  writer

When Jabaree Allen set out to earn a degree in business management and entrepreneurship, he knew that whatever he did would involve taking a few risks.
He didn’t mind that one of those risks might require him giving up a job that he had for some time, following his graduation in 2013 from FSU.  When the opportunity came, he did just that.
With a burning desire to work for himself, Allen took what he learned from the job and formed Business Automation Pros, a company that sells documents or enterprise content management software to help businesses make the switch to paperless.
This year, he is making headway with his business. Thanks in part to support that he and other small businesses have been getting from county and city government agencies that promote the advancement of businesses owned by minorities and women.
Allen didn’t make his move until 2016, after doing his research, discovering that his chosen field is projected to become a multi-million-dollar industry in the next four years.
“After seeing how big the industry was and that it’s an untapped market in the local area, I said, ‘I’m going to go for it,’ ” Allen said.
It didn’t take him long to realize that for minority and women small business owners there are some growing pains in start-up businesses.
Allen and several other small business owners have had to turn to Leon County Minority Women and Small Business Enterprise Division to help them bridge the gap.
Allen soon discovered that the services that the agency offers are exactly what he needed.
“Getting people to trust that I know what I’m doing and meeting prospects was hard for me,” said Allen. “I went to school to learn to be an entrepreneur, but that doesn’t teach you the ropes.
“It’s a lot of other loops I had to go through like insurance and taxes. Nothing I couldn’t come over but it was a lot of challenges.”
Those are some of the challenges that the Leon County MWSBE assisted with since a merger in 2016.  The merger brought together the City of Tallahassee Minority Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (MBE/DBE) and the County’s MWSBE.
The combined agencies could now better monitor qualifications for accreditations and recordkeeping to guarantee sellers are prepared to work with the City of Tallahassee and Leon County.
“Selecting and collaborating with certified local minority and women owned businesses is good business,” said Darryl Jones, Deputy Director, Minority, Women and Small Business Enterprise “Tallahassee and Leon County has top-notch qualified minority and women owned businesses in every variety of profession, service, skill and industry.”
MWSBE also partners with FSU Supplier Diversity Program, FAMU Small Business Development, Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, Leon County School Small Business Development Office and Domi Station.
The joint effort is intended to assist small businesses in meeting the standards for a portion of the qualifications required for government projects. Ultimately, the goal is to help minorities and women who own businesses generate revenue and employment.
While meeting the qualifications could be extensive, Allen said he appreciates having the agencies to advance his business. He began the qualifying process earlier this year.
“Since then, Darryl Jones has introduced me to a lot of resources, I met the mayor and the city and county clerk which are all connections to people that need the services that I provide,” he said. “They help me bring business in to solidify my presence in the community, they have been an essential part of my life as far as networking and meeting new people.”

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