FIU Business Now Magazine Spring 2024
New Program to Improve Enterprise Opportunities
(L to R) Brian Van Hook, regional director, Florida SBDC at FIU; Sergio Catalina Bellmont, owner, Bellmont Spanish Restaurant; Claudia Romero, owner, Pega Grill; U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar; Kenneth A. Jessell, president, FIU; and Mari Rubio, owner, Casa Gioia, at the BizGap program launch in Little Havana on December 18, 2023.


New Program to Improve Enterprise Opportunities

Leaders of the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at FIU Business and U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27) in fall 2023 launched the Business Growth and Acceleration Program (BizGap) for small businesses located in Florida's 27th Congressional District.

Funded by a $650,000 Community Project grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to the FSBDC, BizGap will assist over 1,000 small businesses in FL-27 through Dec. 2024, explained Brian Van Hook, regional director of FSBDC. District 27 includes areas of downtown Miami, Little Havana, Coral Gables, Westchester, Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay.

"BizGap is focused on meeting small business owners where they are in the community and providing them with the guidance, resources and partnerships needed to start and grow their businesses," Van Hook said. "It's another tool in our toolkit to assist local businesses."

The program includes training, workshops and webinars on topics such as marketing, access to capital, business strategy and startup assistance. FSBDC consultants also conduct door-to-door canvassing to reach business owners in key commercial corridors.

"As a proud member of the Small Business Committee, I know that entrepreneurs and mom-and-pop shops are the backbone of Miami," said Salazar, adding that with BizGap more people can feel confident when starting and expanding their business in Miami.

At BizGap's launch, FIU President Kenneth A. Jessell highlighted the importance of small businesses.

"They contribute almost 50% of the economic activity in this country," he said. "They create jobs and ignite innovation every step of the way and here [in] Congressional District 27, we have almost 65,000 small businesses and they have revenues of over $16 billion."


  • 46 businesses launched
  • $29 million in capital secured
  • 840 small businesses consulted
  • $15.8 million in increased sales
  • $35.85 million in government contracts secured
  • 6,838 consulting hours provided