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Overview

picture of a highway vending facility.

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.

New Business Consultant Jay Payne Brings a Wealth of Experience and Knowledge to Central Florida

By Janet Chernoff

Jay Payne The Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) recently said a fond farewell to some long time employees. Jim Carper, Region 5 Business Consultant and Don Meloy, Marketing and Site Development Manager retired earlier this year and food service trainer, Danny Strain has taken another job with the Division of Blind Services (DBS) at the Rehab Center. Greg Coon, Region 3 Business Consultant has been promoted to Marketing and Site Development Manager leaving an opening in Region 3. The Region 3 Business Consultant covers Central Florida including Orlando, Ocala and Daytona Beach.

The BBE is pleased to announce that Jaime “Jay” Payne has been promoted to Region 3 Business Consultant. Most of the BBE vendors and staff know that Jay has been working with Danny Strain for the last five years training new vendors at the Rehab Center in Daytona Beach. Jay brought a wealth of food service knowledge to the training and will continue to do so in his new position as Business Consultant. He started working as dishwasher at IHOP in Virginia while in high school and quickly moved to the prep line. Later he went to work at Ruby Tuesday and the Texas Roadhouse. serving cake at a party.He studied business and advertising in college but eventually determined that it was not for him. He moved to Florida to be closer to family and worked at the Texas Roadhouse for next seven years. During his tenure at Texas Roadhouse he added “trainer” to his resume making him the perfect candidate for training future BBE vendors. Texas Roadhouse was reducing hours and pay, so when his mother told him about the trainer position he was ready to make the change. Jay has been a welcome addition to the BBE team; working with the trainees, assisting BBE staff with DBS 75th Anniversary food offerings and helping at the Biennial Seminars. With his background and experience Jay is more than ready for the challenge of working with the vendors of Region 3.

Jay Payne standing with another man.

Four new members will be joining the BBE team including a new instructor who will take over when Jill Richardson retires in November. Watch the website for more information on the new additions to the BBE staff. In the meantime take a moment to congratulate Greg Coon and Jay Payne on their promotions.

The BBE staff will be presenting a series of educational programs throughout the state for BBE vendors. Details on dates, times and locations are listed below. Anyone interested in knowing more about the program is welcome. Contact Janet Chernoff at (850)245-9406 or by email janet.chernoff@dbs.fldoe.org for more information about these presentations or the BBE program.

Important Notices

September Selection Cycle

Business Opportunities for the September Selection Cycle are now posted on the Business Opportunities page.

Upcoming CEU opportunities

National Association of Blind Merchants (NABM) BLAST Conference

November 13-16, 2018
Hyatt Regency Hill Country, San Antonio, TX
BBE attendees can earn up to 1.5 CEU credits
BBE will pay the registration fee ($200) for licensed vendors interested in attending the BLAST (Business Leadership And Superior Training) Conference.  This years’ BLAST will be held in San Antonio, TX, November 13-16, 2018.  In order for BBE to pay your registration fee, you must notify Alan Risk of your intention to attend no later than 5 PM on July 31, 2018.  Remember, registration fees are non-refundable.  If BBE pays your registration fee and you do not attend, you will be required to reimburse BBE for the registration cost.  Please note the details below.

  • BBE will pay for Registration Fees ONLY.  Each attendee is responsible for all other expenses, including travel, lodging, meals, etc.
  • If your registration fee is paid by BBE and you do not attend, you will be required to reimburse BBE for the cost of registration.
  • BBE will only pay registration fees one time per vendor, per calendar year to attend national training conference associated with the Business Enterprise Program. 
  • BBE does not pay registration for spouses that attend with you.
  • Hotel reservations can be made by calling 1-210-647-1234 and ask for the NABM BLAST room block. 
  • Visit https://blindmerchants.org/blast-2018-registration/ to register. 

IMPORTANT: DO NOT PAY REGISTRATION FEE WHEN REGISTERING.  Registration fees will be paid by Purchase Order from the State of FL.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Pensacola Road Show
2pm – 6pm (Central)
Tryon Branch Library
1200 Langley Avenue, Pensacola, FL 32504

Thursday, October 4

Tallahassee Road Show
2pm – 6pm (Eastern)
Turlington Building, 1st Floor Dining Room
325 West Gaines Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Jacksonville Road Show
2pm – 6pm
Jacksonville Service Center
921 North Davis Street, Bldg. D, Jacksonville, FL 32209

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Orlando Road Show
3pm – 7pm
State Regional Service Center – Cafeteria dining room
400 West Robinson Street, Orlando, FL 32801

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

West Palm Road Show
2pm – 6pm
Lantana Road Branch, Palm Beach County Library (tentative)
4020 Lantana Road
Lake Worth, FL 33462

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Miami Road Show
2pm – 6pm
State Regional Service Center – Cafeteria dining room
401 NW Second Avenue, Miami, FL 33128

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Ft. Myers Road Show
1pm – 5pm
Ft. Myers District office
5256 Summerlin Commons Way,
Suite 201-202, Ft. Myers, FL 33907

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tampa Road Show
2pm – 6pm
Tampa District office
415 Armenia Ave
Tampa, FL 33609

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 student_services@hadley.edu.

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 "2018 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/BBE/ceu.html.

On-line Monthly Business Report

Monthly Reporting Website

Monthly Reporting Instructions (Word DOC)

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.

Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise

Providing Tools and Support for Legally Blind Vendors in the Food Service Industry