WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Approximately 40 individuals convened in West Palm Beach on Thursday evening to commemorate National Black Business Month. Dignitaries from the city of West Palm Beach, as well as a representative from President Joe Biden’s administration, were among the handful of attendees. The discussion revolved around the priorities of the Biden administration, as well as providing local businesses with essential guidance for achieving success.
Mina Li, the proprietor of a body sculpting enterprise, stated that her participation in the event was motivated by her desire to establish connections with fellow business owners and potential clients. She expressed optimism about the potential for encountering new customers and expanding her network, emphasizing the value of the occasion. Li said, “You might meet customers and clients here. You might find resources that might make you bigger than you are right now.”
Many small business owners, like Li, revealed that they have not obtained certification from the city or county. This lack of certification, according to officials, prevents them from securing financial opportunities from public entities, including local governments. The absence of certification renders them ineligible for participation in initiatives like the First Steps Grant Program, a scheme designed to provide funding for marketing, inventory and equipment, property enhancement, and the establishment of new businesses.
Frank Hayden, the director of Equal Opportunity for the city of West Palm Beach, shed light on the subject of grant programs available to small businesses during his address. Hayden indicated that the First Steps Grant Program was exclusively accessible to certified businesses as of July. Consequently, the program’s implementation resulted in a nearly twofold increase in the number of certified establishments. Hayden remarked, “We’ve been certifying firms in this city for a number of years. So, if you’re really interested in being certified, you would have taken care of that. Your interest in it now is because I have some money. When I was broke, you didn’t like me.”
In response to Hayden’s informative presentation, Li expressed her intention to explore the process of obtaining certification for her business. Inspired by the knowledge she gained during the gathering, Li recognized the potential benefits and opportunities that accompany certification. She plans to initiate the necessary steps to ensure her business receives certification from the appropriate authorities.