Miami Dade County, FL – Almost 100 business owners gathered Thursday evening at the Fire Fighters Memorial Building in Doral to attend a Mom and Pop Grant Workshop hosted by the office of Miami Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz. The workshop, led by Leroy Jones from Neighbors and Neighbors Association (NANA) and Olga Hernandez from Commissioner Diaz’s office, provided guidelines on how to apply for funding to a packed room full of local business owners interested in obtaining up to $2,500 in funding from the Miami Dade District 12 Mom and Pop Grant.
The Miami Dade County Mom and Pop Grant Program was funded in 1999 by the Board of County Commissioners to provide financial and technical assistance to eligible small businesses. The district offices of the 13 county commissioners representing the 2.6 million Miami-Dade County residents rely solely on Neighbors and Neighbors Association (NANA), a private entity, to manage and disperse grant funds to qualified businesses every year.
The 2016 Miami Dade District 12 Mom and Pop Grant provides eligible businesses with up to $2,500 in grant funding to pay for inventory/supplies, business equipment, marketing/advertising, building/business insurance, minor interior/exterior renovations, security systems, work vehicle (pick-up truck or cargo van) professional services, (CPA, business training, and events). The requirements for businesses to become eligible include being in business for at least 1 year located in the county district they are applying for, must have no more than 10 employees, have a physical business address, and not be part of a large chain.
According to the presenters, a total of about $100,000 is available for District 12 Mom and Pop Grant Funding, they estimated it would equal about 40-45 business owners.
Neither Jones nor Hernandez could specify the amount of time it takes to actually get funding from the time a business applies, but Jones gave Sweetwater Post brief details about the process after an application is submitted.
After a business submits the complete application package for a Mom and Pop Grant, the heap of applications is reviewed by Jones for errors. The process then raises questions as it includes a review of applications by others including a selection committee. The selection committee, according to Jones, has no association to a commissioners office, or Neighbors for Neighbors, and is made up of business owners and various community members. Jones informed Sweetwater Post that he is the sole person responsible for choosing who will be in the selection committee.
During the presentation, Jones recounted a success story from the program: an unnamed individual years ago awarded with a Mom and Pop Grant of $2,500, resulting years later in a prosperous lawn service company getting massive government contracts.
“We gave this one guy $2,500. He bought a $1,500 truck, started a lawn services company… He now has over $1 Million in city contracts… That was 7 years ago, 11 people work for him now.. That dude was determined, you talk about determination, whoa..”
Jones did not immediately answer an email requesting details of the selection committee, among others regarding the Mom and Pop Grant Program.