West Palm Beach, Fla., Palm Tran is helping disadvantaged businesses find their perfect match by sponsoring the recent 2017 Palm Beach Partners Business Matchmaker Conference & Expo. Now in its 11th year, the conference unites small, minority/women-owned, and disadvantaged business enterprises (SBE, M/WBE, and DBE) with professionals and government agencies in the hopes of developing and building strategic partnerships. The theme for this year’s expo was: “Charting the Course: Navigating Business Connections.”
“Palm Tran is passionate about promoting a level playing field for businesses owned and operated by disadvantaged individuals,” said Palm Tran Executive Director Clinton B. Forbes. “The conference is key to reducing barriers to entry and educating small business enterprises how to thrive in the public sector.”
The Palm Beach Partners Business Matchmaker Conference & Expo attracted more than 400 participants from numerous business disciplines. Business owners participate in 10-minute power talks, lectures, and workshops with government agencies and private corporations. Topics included: how to build your credit, how to obtain a small business loan, and how to build connections and contract opportunities with government agencies.
The biggest hurdle small and disadvantaged business enterprises face is they do not understand what the bidding process entails. Those who attend the conference gain guidance on securing contracting opportunities with the county,” said Palm Tran DBE Grants Coordinator Claudia Salazar. “I love the project because of the questions. Businesses learn they have a plethora of places to turn to.”
During the conference, Forbes led a workshop presenting a system overview of Palm Tran and highlighting upcoming projects. He highlighted the Palm Tran South County Facility Expansion Project in Delray Beach and the Route Performance Maximization Project (RPM) — the latter of which will enhance and speed up Palm Tran’s system. Forbes outlined the difference between a small business enterprise and a disadvantaged business enterprise and explained the certification process.
“Palm Tran has exciting projects in the works that will require DBE and SBE participation. It was important to educate and build relationships with those who can contribute,” Forbes said. “The conference enables business owners to become leaders themselves and serve as examples of what happens when opportunities are embraced.”
Major corporations and government entities in attendance included: the South Florida Water Management District, the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, the School District of Palm Beach County, City of West Palm Beach, City of Riviera Beach, Center for Technology Enterprise and Development, and Paragon Florida Inc.