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.
Dedicated Operator Raises the Bar for Vendors in the BBE Program
By Janet Chernoff
Operators in the Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) program are as varied as their backgrounds. Some are older and have had their careers abruptly derailed when they start to lose their sight. Others are young and find that their lack of vision is limiting their opportunities. They worked in restaurants, offices, call centers and grocery stores. They can be accountants, mechanics or lawyers. Generally it is expected that a work history is necessary for a vendor to successfully operate a BBE facility.
Darryl Brinton is the exception. Following high school he spent a semester in college before deciding that it wasn’t for him. While at the Daytona Rehab Center he heard about an apprenticeship in the BBE that focused on high volume cafeterias. Darryl was only 21 when he became a licensed BBE vendor in February 1993. He started out as manager of a snack bar in the State Regional Service Center in Daytona Beach. He was recommended over some more experienced vendors for the cafeteria at the Claude Pepper building in Tallahassee because of his good financial records and good working relationship with staff and customers. He later moved on to operate food service in the State Capitol Building. The facility in the Capitol was especially challenging with its high profile location and seasonal business.
In 2001 Darryl and wife decided the sixty plus hour work week required by a food service operation was not conducive to raising children. Darryl and his family relocated to Gainesville and operated the vending route there for the next ten years. In 2011 Darryl was awarded and accepted the snack bar in the Duval County Courthouse in Jacksonville. The recession and technology had impacted the vending route in Gainesville and the post office locations were downsizing. Darryl knew that a new courthouse was being built in Jacksonville and that the snack bar would eventually be moved to that facility. With sales of over $450,000 and a profit of almost $100,000 in 2017 this facility is one of the most successful in the state. Darryl keeps things simple at his facility with a menu on a two week rotation that features hot and cold sandwiches.
Darryl took on the added challenge of running a second location, the cafeteria at the Jacksonville Police Administration Building in April 2017 when the existing operator left unexpectedly. He provided on the job training to the operator who was eventually awarded that location. As if running two busy facilities and raising a family isn’t enough, Darryl also represents his district on the Committee of Vendors and attends quarterly meetings.
Darryl Brinton is one of the many vendors in the BBE program who realizes that operating a facility is not just a job, but a calling. His dedication to his facility has not only resulted in personal success but has raised the bar for operators in the BBE program.
May Selection Cycle
Business Opportunities for the May Selection Cycle are now posted on the Business Opportunities page.
Upcoming CEU opportunities
VISTAR of Florida Annual Buying Show
Friday, August 3, 2018, 9 AM – 2 PM
Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando
BBE vendors can earn up to a maximum of 0.50 CEU credits
For more information, Email email@example.com
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.
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 "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
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.