The University of Florida has launched a tool that allows small businesses to share services with departments not only in Gainesville, but all of Florida.
According to Dwan Courtney, UF Small Business and Supplier Diversity director, any business interested in entering information and a services summary into the new database will become part of the tool that is used by the main campus, other UF facilities statewide, and the general public.
An official marketing campaign announcing the tool has not yet been established, but the list already has more than two dozen entries ranging from an organic jam maker in Newberry to a software developer in Miami.
“This is a tool for the entire university,” Courtney said about departments statewide having access to search for vendor services. She added that there is a chance in the registration process to note if the business owner is a UF alum.
“We are reaching out for the advancement of small businesses and even want to recognize alumni who have created businesses,” she said.
The registration form asks for basic information and has a spot to paste websites or social media pages. There are classification categories to check off in the registration, including veteran-owned, woman-owned, or disadvantaged business.
The portal allows for a general description of services and an upload link for additional information.
“We wanted it to be easy for business owners to upload key information,” Courtney said. “And the platform is in a centralized location.”
Courtney encourages small businesses to include a capability statement to offer greater detail about their products or services.
“Our community partners will have access as well, so be sure to respond accurately and include all pertinent information,” the database description says.
Courtney said businesses that work with UF departments may need a small business, so registering with the database creates more opportunity for small business owners in developing contacts.
The database “removes the middle man,” Courtney said, and that makes it easier for UF departments to connect directly with the business owner.
Newberry resident and UF employee LaNeshia Chaney has an organic jam business Jayda’s Jams and was quick to add her company information to the database, which she learned about on a Facebook page.
“We are excited to provide jams and jelly that Jayda and others can enjoy without the side effects of harsh chemicals and possible allergic reactions!” her business statement reads.
Her products are “more for smaller catering events such as a small brunch, or gift baskets or welcome packages.”
Chaney has been selling jams for two years at local farmers’ markets and said this is just another way to get the word out.
“I’m trying to get myself out there,” she said.
The complete list of businesses is available online.
In July, UF launched another small business initiative when it started rotating local restaurants through Restaurant Row at the Reitz Union on the main campus.