By Senen Garcia
Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and MSNBC are reporting about South Florida’s startup explosion and the revival of an economy hampered by the recession. Incubators, accelerators, launch pads and charming co-work spaces are fueling what many are calling the “New Miami.”
But what of traditional Miami and the groups that have supported small businesses for decades — chambers of commerce, the Small Business Adminstration, community development organizations, business development offices and nonprofit business groups?
This month Miami-Dade SCORE turns 50. That means 50 years of helping thousands of local businesses start, grow and succeed. The all-volunteer nonprofit relies on the expertise of 93 business mentors — retired and in business, young and old — to help entrepreneurs realize their dreams.
SCORE and its counterparts are the traditional Miami. We give business workshops in libraries. We meet with clients at Starbucks. We set up tables at neighborhood business fairs. We mentor clients by Skype, phone and email.
We quietly and successfully help the businesses that are not making headlines generate revenues that keeps the local economy going and growing.
Our clients are the local businesses you frequent every day — the dry cleaner, franchisee, law firm, yoga studio and family restaurant. They are businesses like Viking Defense, a company founded by a former federal immigration officer. Viking owner Rickey Brantley turned to SCORE to grow his small security company. SCORE mentors guided him through the process that resulted in several loans, the expansion to 35 employees and several government contracts.
SCORE mentors helped Sky Zone in Doral find a location, draft a business plan and prepare loan documents that led to a $900,000 SBA loan two years ago when small business lending was even tougher.
Traditional Miami doesn’t often promote its successes, but you see its good work every day. Panther Coffee — the acclaimed local coffee roaster attracting national attention and expanding throughout the county — opened its doors and grew with SCORE’s guidance. RHouse, the Wynwood restaurant opened by chef Rocco Carulli, relied on SCORE as well.
As the New Miami captures the headlines and the spotlight, know that traditional Miami will always be here to guide and help business owners, no matter their industry.
New Miami? Traditional Miami? The fact is we’re all in it together to build one big, vibrant and prosperous Miami.
Senen Garcia is chair of Miami-Dade Score and an attorney in Coconut Grove.