Pinellas County has made improvements to expand the Pinellas Small Business Enterprise program, using a strategic approach to expanding access to opportunities and diversifying the supply chain.

The County Commission unanimously approved an ordinance May 7 that amends the purchasing code to reflect the current SBE Program.

"Expanding our Small Business Enterprise Program ensures that more of our local, small business owners have access to greater opportunities to do business with the county," said Barry Burton, Pinellas County Administrator.

The program, led by the Pinellas County Economic Development and Purchasing Departments, has a dedicated team to assist eligible businesses. With the increase of the county’s sheltered market, the SBE Program's potential market has increased from $2 million to $40 million.

With the integration of new software, the county will incorporate a searchable database to assist staff and general contractors with identifying small businesses for subcontracting opportunities. The software will also allow local vendors to receive email notifications of opportunities to do business with the county. In addition, all small businesses awarded a contract will have access to business consultants at the Florida Small Business Development Center at Economic Development for support services.

Eligible businesses are those that serve a commercially useful function, located in one of Pinellas County's 24 municipalities, Hillsborough, Pasco, or Manatee Counties, have less than 50 full-time employees, with three-year average gross revenues of $3 million or less for services and $8 million or less for construction related projects.

For more information about eligibility requirements, visit www.PCED.org/sbe.