The mission of the Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) is to provide people who are legally blind with rewarding and profitable entrepreneurial ventures, broaden their economic opportunities, and invigorate all blind people to be self-supporting, while dispelling misconceptions about blind people by showcasing their abilities.
The Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) administers one of the largest vending and food service programs operated by people who are legally blind in the United States. The Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise Program provides job opportunities in the food service sector for eligible blind persons under the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Job opportunities include: snack bar, cafeteria, highway vending machines, or non-highway vending.
Everything a visually impaired person needs to get started running their own food service facility is provided including training, facility, equipment, inventory, and the necessary funds to begin operations. The BBE prides itself in allowing visually impaired entrepreneurs independence in their day-to-day operations, while at the same time providing continual support through professional business consultants and educational workshops.
Florida broadened the federal Randolph Sheppard Act with its own version. Blind licensees, under the Little Randolph Sheppard Act (FS 413.051) are given the first opportunity to participate in the operation of vending stands on all state properties acquired after July 1, 1979, when such facilities are operated under the supervision of the Florida Division of Blind Services of the Department of Education.
If you are legally blind and a United States citizen, you might want to consider the Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise Program as your career choice. Read How to Get a BBE Vendor License and find out how you can begin an exciting career as the manager of a vending or food services facility.
Vendor is a Rock Star in the Florida BBE program
Don Tuell is the picture of a professional vendor in the DBS Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) program. His vending machines are always sparkling clean and well stocked. His professionalism extends to everything he does, including his voice mail message. He is active in the vendor community and works behind the scenes on issues that affect new and experienced vendors alike.
When you look at Tuell today, you can see him as a rock star of the vendor community. But you wouldn’t think that he once was a real rock star. Rock star may be a bit of an overstatement, but Tuell was the drummer in a cover band named Southern Reign in the 1970s. He joined them right after leaving high school and spent the next 10 years on the road. The band opened for some well-known acts including Lee Greenwood and Lynyrd Skynyrd. They even opened for Terri Gibbs, a visually impaired country singer.
After 10 years on the road, Tuell began to weary of the lifestyle of a musician. He sold his drums and began to look for his next career. He had been in touch with a couple of vendors, Charlie Hackney and Frank Adams, in the Florida BBE program. After a long conversation with Adams, he decided to apply to the program. Training was different in the 1980s and Tuell only spent five weeks in the classroom compared to the 18 weeks that trainees do today. By the time he finished his on-the-job training in the cafeteria in Jacksonville, he was well on his way to being an enthusiastic member of the blind vendors of Florida.
Tuell’s first location was a small snack bar in a planning and zoning building in West Palm Beach. The location didn’t provide enough income so he took a second job as a DJ at a club called Banana Max in Jupiter, Fla. He worked two jobs for the next four years before moving on to food service in Gainesville and then in Tampa. In 1997, he accepted a contract to service rest area vending on I-10 and then moved to his current location in 2002, serving rest area vending on I-75 near Lake City.
Tuell knows that his lifestyle today is totally different from where he started. He is grateful for the chance he was given by the BBE program and is always looking for ways to give back to the program. He mentors new and experienced vendors and is always willing to lend a helping hand. Tuell may not be rocking out on stage anymore, but he is definitely a “rock star” in the Florida BBE program.
September Selection Cycle
Business Opportunities for the September Selection Cycle are now posted on the Business Opportunities page.
Upcoming CEU opportunities
Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Hadley has agreed that BBE managers in Florida are not required to provide verification that they are legally blind. First time registrants will need to complete an enrollment application. Applications can be completed online at http:///www.hadley.edu. If you would prefer to receive a hard copy of the application in Braille or print format, you should contact Student Services at (800) 526-9909 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application will ask for information about your eye condition, but an eye report is not required if you are identified on the vendor list provided to them. For identification purposes, when completing the application form, please note "2017 FL Randolph Sheppard" in the Referral Details section of the application where it asks how you heard about Hadley.
Vendors who have taken Hadley courses within the past five years are not required to submit a new application. You should contact Student Services via email or telephone to request enrollment. However, Hadley asks that you identify yourselves as a Florida Randolph Sheppard Program student.
A list of BBE pre-approved Hadley courses for CEU credit can be found at http://dbs.myflorida.com/Business%20Enterprise/ceu.html.
On-line Monthly Business Report
Vendors experiencing technical difficulties with submitting on-line reports, especially in cases that would result in a late report, should immediately contact Adam Gaffney, DBS computer helpdesk, by calling (850) 245-0360 or by sending an email to Adam.Gaffney@dbs.fldoe.org.