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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.

Busy Vendor takes on the Challenge of Representing the Blind Vendors of Florida

By Janet Chernoff

Jim Warth at podium.Jim Warth is a busy man.  He is under contract to the Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) program to manage a large vending route in the Tampa area. He is also Chairman of the Committee of Vendors and President of the Tampa Council of the Blind. Jim Warth didn’t start his career with the idea of being a manager in the BBE program.  Nor did he go into the program with the intention of being the Chairman of the Committee of Vendors, but now he is both. 

In 1984 he received a Bachelor’s Degree from Florida State University in accounting and finance and went on to get his Master’s Degree in business and accounting from the University of Tampa in 2002.  Over the next twenty years he worked for a number of organizations including the State of Florida at the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of General Services, a jewelry company, a computer store and a construction company.  He has also done accounting work for Florida timeshare companies and still provides accounting services to a select group of clients today.

In 2002 he recommended to his wife Kathy that she pursue a career in the BBE.  He felt that it was a good opportunity and that she would be successful.  Two years later he decided to join her.  He was ready to be his own boss.  Jim Warth standing in lobby.He did his on the job training in Miami and then return to Tampa and signed into his first facility in 2005.  With an exception of one year spent in a cafeteria in the Capitol Building in Tallahassee in 2008-2009, Jim has spent his time in locations in the Tampa area.  He currently runs a vending route that covers almost twenty locations including a micro market in a federal building, vending in the Hillsborough County Center and sites in Lakeland and Plant City.

On August 19, 2017 Jim Warth was elected by a majority vote to serve as Chairman of the Committee of Vendors.  The Florida State Committee of Vendors represents the vendors in the BBE program and actively participates with BBE management in major decisions regarding program development and transfer and promotion opportunities for vendors and acts as advocate for vendors with grievances.  Jim and his fellow committee members are elected for a two year term.

Jim Warth has always been willing to step up and take on new challenges.  He has helped the program develop new locations including opening one of the program’s first micro markets.  He is now ready and willing to embark on this new phase of his career and looks forward to representing the interests of Blind Vendors of Florida in the state and nationwide. 

Important Notices

January Selection Cycle

Business Opportunities for the January 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 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 "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

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