Lauderhill, Fla. – After hearing the entreaties from small business owners struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic and aspiring entrepreneurs seeking a boost to start their own businesses in Lauderhill, city leaders have responded with a program designed to address facets of the city’s workforce.

At a Feb. 10 workshop, officials outlined the Raising the BAR (Business, Attraction and Retention) Program, which consists of 10 elements designed to offer a wide range of resources to start and scale a business in Lauderhill.

The Raising the BAR program offers financing and other resources for entrepreneurship programs, a course to learn how to become a city vendor through Small Business Enterprise (SBE), Target Market, Micro Loan, Commercial Facade grant programs, and the Business Rescue Plan.

Lauderhill’s Business Rescue Program is designed for businesses that were hit hard by covid, and the city has committed $1 million from American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds for eligible small businesses.

Small, independentlyowned businesses can each receive a $10,000 grant if they qualify.

Businesses must have 15 or fewer employees, experienced loss due to the pandemic, operated in Lauderhill prior to March 1, 2020 and have a valid Lauderhill Certificate of Use.


Vice Mayor Melissa P. Dunn, who is championing the Raising the BAR Program, noted that some Lauderhill businesses have been struggling since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020 and resources and funding weren’t available to help them. It also was a bad time for aspiring Lauderhill entrepreneurs to start businesses because education programs like learning how to get certified, obtain a building permit and grants, and marketing training also weren’t available due to the outbreak.

Dunn said she and the rest of the Lauderhill City Commission and city staff members went to work and created a plan with the goal of making the city’s economy strong by helping increase business revenues. The city combined all of its workforce programs together to create Raising the BAR.

"We are Raising the BAR," Dunn told a room filled with business owners and sponsors in the commission chamber at City Hall. "My colleagues and I are 100 percent committed to making Lauderhill the best city to live, learn, work, play and do business.”

Dunn said Lauderhill is investing more than $1 million in grants to small city businesses, and 500 certified Lauderhill businesses will have the opportunity to bid on as much as $80 million worth of city contracts for services and municipal projects in the city’s pipeline for the next five years.

Dunn said Raising the BAR program also offers business owners free training on how to become a vendor for Lauderhill.

“WE HEARD YOU" "We have heard your cries that your business is suffering because of loss of revenues due to COVID-19, and you need access to more capital," Dunn said. "When you said you needed a procurement workforce, we heard you."

Dunn, who started her own marketing business in 2014, said it was an uphill battle because she didn’t have access to resources that Raising the BAR program offers. She encouraged business owners to take advantage of the program to avoid the struggles she had experienced.

"I didn’t have this opportunity to start my marketing company," she said. "Raising the BAR is easy and accessible. Our team of city commissioners and city staff can share with you step by step on how to apply for grants and other funding opportunities made available to you."

For aspiring entrepreneurs, the program offers free counseling and training services to help them start a business and secure financial help.

Or they can choose the Lauderhill Shines Program, an online self-paced capacity development course to assist existing and start-up businesses.

Dunn said the 12-week program is broken down in four modules: * Doing business in Lauderhill – Meeting city elected officials and seeing how they plan to help business level up. Code enforcement officials and directors will share the do’s and don’ts when operating a business in Lauderhill * Laying a Strong Foundation – Including how to procure capital to help grow businesses, how to write and negotiate contracts, suggestions on book keeping and basics on human resource concepts.

* Getting customers – Marketing, social media, networking and other key elements for gaining exposure to new customers, sharing businesses products/services and making the sale.

*Scaling Your Business – Helping businesses attain certifications and acquiring federal, state and city contracts.

Small Business Enterprise (SBE) is a city initiative to aid and assist small businesses and make sure they have a fair opportunity to bid for city contracts and maintain and strengthen the overall economy for Lauderhill.