3 African-American businesses split $5,000 prize
By Kevin Turner, Florida Times-Union
Three African-American small business owners – including one from Jacksonville – split $5,000 in prize money Friday for submitting the best business plans in a contest sponsored by Access Florida Finance Corp.
The winners were announced during the First Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce Northeast Florida Economic Opportunity Summit at the downtown branch of the Jacksonville Library.
Judges had previously narrowed the field of 13 business plan entries to three, and representatives from each – ProVac Clean Inc. of Jacksonville, InfoService LLC of Pensacola and Shoe Passion of Midway – orally defended their plans before a panel of judges. In the end, Shoe Passion took first place and a $2,500 check; InfoService came in second, winning $1,500, and ProVac placed third, winning $1,000.
ProVac President and CEO Stan Johnson said the company had a business plan for the cleaning company, and that he boiled it down for the contest.
“I took different excerpts, such as strategic analysis and different components to make an overview,” he said.
The company’s marketing message is built around the tagline, “We provide a cleaner, safer, healthier environment,” he said.
It was the third economic summit for the First Coast African-American Chamber and the second business plan contest for Access Florida.
Access Florida President Mark Scovera said the prize money was furnished from his company’s marketing budget.
“We see this as a tremendous opportunity to market the organization,” he said.
The current environment is tight for small businesses in general, and especially so for African-American owned businesses, Scovera said.
The money is set aside to help those who set themselves apart with practical, usable and feasible business plans that poise those firms for success, he said.