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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.

A Can Do Attitude Results in Success for BBE Operator in Pensacola

By Janet Chernoff

Emmett Magee Emmett Magee has held jobs in food service since the age of fifteen.  He has worked at almost every position including dishwasher, busboy, cook and even general manager in sandwich shops, fast food and fine dining restaurants.  Originally from New Orleans, he was employed at well-known establishments such as the Commanders Palace and Copeland’s of New Orleans.  At age seventeen he attended the New Orleans Regional Vocational Technical institute to study computer maintenance.  Emmett had 20/20 vision in his mid-twenties but was given a definite diagnosis of macular degeneration at age 27.  Two years later he had to stop driving.  Emmett’s younger brother had received the same diagnosis but began losing vision in his teens.

In 1999 Emmett moved to Pensacola and worked at the Copeland’s there until the location closed in 2007.  He worked at another restaurant until 2009 until that place went out of business.  The restaurant closure, a recent death in the family and his brother’s success in the Louisiana Business Enterprise program made Emmett realize that it was time to make a change.  He worked with his younger brother for a while and in 2012 Emmett applied to the Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) program and was recommended for training.  He was licensed in November and in December 2012 he was awarded his first facility, a snack bar in the Collins Building in Tallahassee.

Three guys with dogs and canesEmmett ran the snack bar in Tallahassee for a year before deciding to return home to Pensacola.  His wife was unable to relocate to Tallahassee and the strain of travelling back to Pensacola almost every weekend was becoming too much.  Reluctantly, Emmett returned home to take care of his family obligations with the knowledge that there were no available BBE facilities in the area.  For the next year and a half Emmett worked at his brother’s BBE facility in New Orleans. 

In December of 2015 a vending route became available in Pensacola and it was awarded to Emmett.  In 2016 another vendor unexpectedly resigned and Emmett took on the responsibility of a second vending route.  Emmett purchased a large white box truck and converted it into a mobile storage unit with shelving and interior lighting.  Affectionately known as “The Beast,” the truck is only one of the tools that has helped Emmett successfully operate his facility.  In March 2017 the Committee of Vendors voted to combine the two routes, confirming their confidence in Emmett’s ability to manage the larger facility.

Emmett’s encyclopedic knowledge of food service, love of all things technical and ability to convert an old truck into a top notch storage and delivery vehicle have contributed to his success.  His Cajun manners and can do attitude have made him a first class operator in the BBE program.

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