Open Letter

The purpose of this letter is to urge both the State Legislature and the Governor to incorporate The Umbrella Initiative in the Florida proposed strategy to strengthen the infrastructure that supports the 2.4 million small and minority businesses in the State. This initiative aligns with the reduction of the State bureaucracy, the elimination of duplicative services and the abolition of burdensome regulations to create new jobs through government contracting at the local, state and federal levels.

The Umbrella Initiative, a by-product of the Fairness in Procurement Alliance (FPA) procurement Think Tank at UNF, will save millions in wasted resources while helping the State lead the nation in the creation of jobs through the use of technology platforms in a portal that will empower, train and facilitate access to public contracts. This private sector initiative – to be deployed in the State of Florida before it is rolled out nationally – will also permit the involvement of university professors and students in the promotion and support of innovation, entrepreneurship and teamwork in the community with such projects as C.E.L.

The Umbrella Initiative would, in essence, strengthen The One Florida Initiative (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/admin/One_FLa) introduced by Former Governor Jeb Bush “to increase diversity and opportunities in state contracting without using discriminatory policies.” It would do this by bringing, under one umbrella, technology tools to actually track results, encourage contracting and offer transparency to the procurement functions at all levels in the State. This initiative will also create a unified procurement solution that would offer access to all essential procurement elements, including training and access to capital.

FPA was delighted to hear the Lieutenant Governor – at a gathering of minority businesses on April 15th in Jacksonville – pledge Executive support because “the Umbrella Initiative offers actual solutions with measurable results to a State dilemma the Governor intends to solve.” Ms. Carroll acknowledged she was impressed by the methodology, track record of the Think Tank, Congressional support and by the State-wide endorsements – with more than $150,000 in pledges for on-kind contributions – FPA had received.

We are available to provide additional information to encourage legislative and state-wide support and funding from public and private sources for The Umbrella Initiative and its projects. The cooperation of all State agencies, Counties, Universities, Schools and municipalities spending tax dollars on public contracts is critical in this undertaking. All procurement officials in the State should all be encouraged to get acquainted with the features and benefits of the initiative and its procurement portal.

The Umbrella Initiative will create a Florida Procurement Portal consisting of three separate platforms which, when combined, will guarantee small and minority business owners access – in one place – to ALL essential procurement elements, including the actual solicitations from 1,586 State and local Agencies PLUS all the federal contracting opportunities. One will be able to access communication; registration; certification; trainings; bid searching, bid responses; contract funding (access to capital) and contracting results!

The procurement services to be offered through this Initiative can be personalized to each local area serviced and can be managed by the counseling staff of existing service providers.  The ‘Florida Procurement Portal’ would permit local counselors, at service provider offices, to offer – in one place – critical on-line procurement support – including on-demand trainings - to existing small businesses interested in becoming involved and/or on expanding their government procurement activities.  Currently, service providers are restricted to only offering on-location trainings, which reach a very small number of recipients, and recommending clients to over a dozen resources for vital information and/or support.

Visit our website and get acquainted with the details. Learn about The C.E.L. Project and how it will create jobs in the inner City. Register to attend the ‘Let’s Do Business Florida’ event on June 16th, to view our presentation. Find out how the initiative will help Florida lead the nation in the creation of new jobs.

Total Agencies Issuing Public Contracts: 1,586
Agencies whose results are tracked, but in a limited basis 32
Total POs issued by 32 Agencies since 2003: 997,000
Purchase Orders processed by 32 Agencies since 2003 : $9.4 Billion
Total Small Businesses in the State: 2.4 M
Suppliers Registered to do Business with the State: 150,000
Florida Suppliers Registered to Do Business with the State: 95,004
Florida Small Businesses Registered to do Business with the State: 7,280
Certified Florida  SDB Vendors Registered with the State: 3,583  (< 1%)