The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) decided on Tuesday to modify the parameters of its Small Business Enterprise program, move forward with hunting on Lochloosa Slough Preserve and limit truck routes along certain roadways.
The Small Business Enterprise (SBE) program was approved by the BOCC in 2006 and aims to channel county procurement through local, small and minority businesses. The county wants to spend 15% of its procurement through these SBEs. Currently, 15 of the 51 vendors used by the county are in the program, representing less than 5% of its annual procurement budget.
The past parameters for the program have been in place since 2006. To qualify, the business must have 25 or fewer employees, a net worth of no more than $1 million and be located within the small business enterprise zone. For the BOCC’s program, the enterprise zone is Alachua County and all touching counties.
The BOCC worried that the parameters might exclude businesses with few employees but a lot of equipment that would grow the net worth above the $1 million cap. To address that concern, Commissioner Ken Cornell proposed a motion to increase the cap to $5 million.
The motion passed unanimously, with Commissioner Charles Chestnut IV absent.
The motion also asked staff to create a new emerging small business category with the original $1 million cap, a category that UF has also added to its procurement process. Cornell also asked that staff return with recommendations on increasing its number of businesses in the SBE program.
Commissioner Anna Prizzia said she’d like to expand the economic development department to further assist the program.
“I do think that as we build out economic development, I would love to see more opportunities for capacity building for small businesses,” Prizzia said. “But right now, the main thing for this was just so that we make sure we’re spending our money, and we’re walking the talk.”
The county also authorized staff to move forward with creating a Wildlife Management Area plan with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to allow hunting at the county’s newly acquired Lochloosa Slough Preserve. The final piece of the preserve was purchased in July 2023.
The county has allowed hunting on 11 properties since 2013 with different limitations. The motion on Tuesday directed staff to move forward with a plan that would have FWC manage the hunting side at Lochloosa Slough Preserve, located south of Hawthorne.
The motion also asked staff to return with best practices being used to manage hunting on public lands across the state.
Cornell also made the motion that will start work to limit trucks using county roads that are 22 feet wide or less. The motion directs staff to set up a meeting with the Florida Highway Patrol to discuss what the county would need in order to make and enforce the rule.
Currently, the county has 43 road segments out of 1822 that would qualify. A second motion also asks staff to return with options to levy fines to enforce the rule along with trucks parked on county roads.
The county plans to place signs noting the change, but public works director Ramon Gavarrete noted that the signs will do no good without enforcement.
“Once you start getting to 10-foot lanes or less, that’s where the safety consideration then comes in,” Gavarrete said.