State senator wants to help small businesses

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Launching a small business can seem like a challenging task, knowing there are a number of larger, more established businesses out there. But there are ways that a small business can thrive and this can be achieved in no small part by having a website.

Having a strong online presence can truly drive businesses in today’s digital world. Having a website gives small business owners a necessary tool to advertise their products and services to attract consumers’ attention. Many small businesses either don’t know where to start in creating a website or simply don’t have the funds to do so.

Local resident Rudy Ferguson said that his business, WININ apparel, has gone downhill, especially since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Online shopping is everyone’s go-to now since COVID-19 hit,” Ferguson said. “My sales have gone down and one obvious reason why is because I don’t have a website. The funds would be extremely beneficial to my business and could possibly help it flourish.”

Florida Senate Bill 202 — Small Business Website Development Grant Program — was filed by Gary Farmer, D-Miami. It would give small businesses the extra funding necessary to create a website to expand their brand.

According to the bill text, the program would be located in the Department of Economic Opportunity, which would authorize certain small businesses to apply for a grant in a specified amount. It would require that grant funds be used for the development of a website.

If passed, their plan of action will give small businesses an opportunity for their online storefront to expand and grow outside of their geographic area.

A great advantage to having a website for any small business is the fact that products are assessable any time of the day, which makes merchandise convenient for consumers.

FAMU student Hailey Brown said that most of her purchasing is done online.

“Everything that I purchase is usually done on a website,” Brown said. “The fact that everything online is available 24/7 makes it easier to have access to it.”

Entrepreneur Taj Noir said that her clothing line, EXOTIC 8, grew tremendously after saving up funds to create a website.

“Creating a website was a huge goal of mine. It took some time, but it was well worth it,” Noir said. “This website has expanded my physical location and now I have people from all across the world purchasing from me. If this bill is passed, it will help out small businesses enormously.”

SB 202 was introduced on Jan. 11 and has been referred to Commerce and Tourism, Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations subcommittees.