the criteria set forth for certification is set by the Florida Legislature. There are size standards and other criteria that entities must meet in order to be certified by the state.
Mr. Paige also said that there is a process vendors must go through in order to determine and verify that they are in effect 51 percent or more owned, operated, and controlled by a woman or an ethnic minority, and that is what his office does on behalf of the State of Florida. He reported that his office has about 5,000-plus vendors who are in the Office of Supplier Diversity database who have gone through the process and who are certified.
The Office of Supplier Diversity creates strategic alliances between women and minorities who want to do business with Florida. He said “Strategic Alliances” with major corporations are encouraged as a part of the Office of Supplier Diversity’s “Matchmaking” efforts. Vendors certified by the State of Florida have “first stop” status as the Office of Supplier Diversity strives to assist in developing business relationships, which will lead to potential contract opportunities. Additionally, the Office of Supplier Diversity works on the Governor’s Mentor Protégé Program, a program created to pair minority and women-owned businesses with corporations having revenues in excess of $1 million. Another program Mr. Paige mentioned was the Loan Mobilization Program. This program was created to assist Certified Minority Business Enterprises (MBE) in obtaining funding when starting a state-funded project. The loan is made through participating banks. In order to ensure that MBE’s have an equitable opportunity to compete for contracts and subcontracts, Mr. Paige said the State will take steps to facilitate their involvement.
In the last fiscal year, the Office of Supplier Diversity participated in 60 special events around Florida with chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and special entities that address minority and women business enterprises. At the conclusion of his