In jobs tug-of-war, Miami-Dade County won't tie small-business strings onto land use
By Ashley Hopkins
In a tug-of-war over what makes business thrive, a divided Miami-Dade County Commission refused last week to subject leases and contracts for privately-funded improvements on county land to Community Business Enterprise and Community Small Business Enterprise requirements.
The Community Business Enterprise program requires that 10% of county spending for professional architectural, landscape architectural, engineering, and survey and mapping services go to in-county businesses that average gross revenues under $4.5 million for architectural services and $6 million for the others.
The Community Small Business Enterprise program requires average gross revenues for the past three years under $5 million except for manufacturers who employ fewer than 100 and wholesalers who employ fewer than 50.
Barbara Jordan pushed the failed resolution premised on strengthening the CBE program and helping area businesses.
"When we have land, the land is money," she said. "I think there are opportunities out there for the small business community to participate [in the program]. That why this item is here — to make sure our CSBE and our CBE program goals and policies would apply on [privately-funded] projects that would come forward."
Rebeca Sosa said she supported the CBE program but thought regulating companies more might lessen the county's ability to pull in business and create jobs.
"I support small business, but I am concerned about creating a negative impact in the midst of trying to bring more people into Miami-Dade County to conduct business," she said, "to lease from us, to establish contracts with us."
Carlos Gimenez agreed with Ms. Sosa, saying those looking to do business in the county already face a number of requirements.
"It's an impediment," he said. "It's an added cost and it is not the right time. We don't need any more regulations — heaven knows we have enough.… In these economic times, we don't need to put additional burdens on business."
County Manager George Burgess said that while those working to establish privately-funded improvements on county-owned land would be subject to added requirements, it was too soon to tell how the expense would translate to taxpayers.
"It's very difficult to quantify costs," he said. "Anytime we add additional requirements on anyone who wants to do business with the county, there's a burden. You as a policymaking board have to evaluate whether that burden has a sufficient social objective that is worth doing."
The commission voted down the item 7 to 4, which Ms. Jordan said signaled the end of the CBE program.
"We are making a laughingstock of the Community Small Business Enterprise Program that supports small business here in Miami-Dade County," she said. "I am appalled at the manager's response, because it only confirms to me that there is no commitment from the administration in terms of the Community Small Business Program. I felt it all along, and it was confirmed to me today."
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