FIU Business Now Magazine
Business Navigator Yields Strong Results

Business Navigator Yields Strong Results

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

Seven community groups have collaborated to host in-person workshops, webinars and monthly resource fairs that have rotated around Miami-Dade County libraries and community centers.

“The secret to our success is that we’re not being asked to do anything we don’t do normally,” said Brian Van Hook, regional director of the FSBDC. “We already collaborate, make referrals and offer joint training. Navigator has allowed us to coordinate better what each group does, to make it more systematic.”

Launched in 2021, the $2.5 million Navigator project provides one-on-one assistance to entrepreneurs in underserved and minority communities. 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.

In 2022, the startups and small businesses working with the local Navigator groups accessed $478,244 in capital and secured $24,353 in government contracts, Van Hook noted.

A key component of the program is the monthly 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 centers, technology assistance groups and chambers of commerce.

“They can go to one place and meet with eight or 10 groups for one-on-one consulting, get more information or register for a program,” said Van Hook. “We focus heavily on training and outreach, and that’s where we’re seeing success. It has helped drive client engagement.”

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.

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