Business Enterprise Program

Picture of vendor Steve Schneider.

The mission of the Florida Business Enterprise Program (BEP) is to provide people who are legally blind with rewarding and profitable entrepreneurial ventures, broaden their economic opportunities, and invigorate all blind people to be self-supporting, while dispelling misconceptions about blind people by showcasing their abilities.

The Florida Business Enterprise (BEP) administers one of the largest vending and food service programs operated by people who are legally blind in the United States.  The Florida Business Enterprise Program provides entrepreneurial opportunities in the food service industry for eligible blind persons licensed in Florida under the Randolph-Sheppard Act. Job opportunities include: snack bar, cafeteria, micromarkets, highway vending machines, or non-highway vending.

Everything a visually impaired person needs to get started running their own food service facility is provided including training, facility, equipment, inventory, and the necessary funds to begin operations.  The BEP prides itself in allowing visually impaired entrepreneurs independence in their day-to-day operations, while at the same time providing continual support through professional business consultants and educational workshops.  

Florida broadened the federal Randolph Sheppard Act with its own version. Blind licensees, under the Little Randolph Sheppard Act (FS 413.051) are given the first opportunity to participate in the operation of vending stands on all state properties acquired after July 1, 1979, when such facilities are operated under the supervision of the Florida Division of Blind Services of the Department of Education.

If you are legally blind and a United States citizen, you might want to consider the Florida Business Enterprise Program as your career choice. Read How to Get a BEP Vendor License and find out how you can begin an exciting career as the manager of a vending or food services facility.

Important Notices

Reimbursements

There are two ways to submit the completed Reimbursement Request Packet:

  1. E-mail – BEP Facility Operators are encouraged to participate in and use the E-mail Reimbursement Request System. Send the request packet to the e-mail address of BBE.Reimbursements@dbs.fldoe.org. In the e-mail’s Subject Line, include the Invoice Number to assist in quick referencing. In body of the e-mail, include the Invoice Number, the BEP Facility Operator’s name, and include any additional notes necessary for clarification to assist in processing the request when needed.
  2. Ground Mail – Send the completed Reimbursement Request Packet to:
    Division of Blind Services
    Office of the Comptroller, DBS Fiscal Section
    Suite 924, Turlington Building
    325 West Gaines Street
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-04000

May Selection Cycle

Business opportunities for the May Selection Cycle are now posted on the Business Opportunities page.

Upcoming CEU opportunities

American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention

ACB is pleased to be collaborating with the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) with a joint opening general session. There will be combined programming sessions, exhibit hall, and additional opportunities.

Dates/Location: July 5 – 12, 2024, Hyatt Regency Riverfront Hotel, 225 E. Coastline Dr., Jacksonville.

CEUs: BEP attendees will earn 0.500 CEU credit per day of attendance, up to a maximum of 1.000 CEU credits.

For more information, click on 2024 Convention Home Page (acbconvention.org).

National Association of Blind Merchants 2024 BLAST Conference 

“Uniting Minds and Inspiring Innovation”   
Dates/Location: November 19-22, 2024, Music City Sheraton Hotel, Nashville, TN

CEUs: BEP attendees will earn 0.500 CEU credit per day of attendance, up to a maximum of 1.500 CEU credits.

The room block is now open at the Music City Sheraton Hotel in Nashville.  Book your rooms early so you aren’t left trying to find a place nearby to stay.  80% of our room block is already gone.  The Sheraton is near the airport and the hotel offers free shuttle service back and forth.  All of the major airlines serve Nashville with Southwest having the largest market share by far.  Book your room now at https://book.passkey.com/e/50541034.

How to Register: Click on https://barbbadge.wufoo.com/forms/m1es06ct11mr7s8/   

Important Notes:

  1. BEP will again pay the vendor’s registration fee for Blast Conference, however you must notify Alan Risk of your intent to attend no later than August 30, 2024.
  2. Remember, registration fees are non-refundable.  If BEP pays your registration fee and you do not attend, you will be required to reimburse BEP for the registration cost. 
  3. BEP will pay for Registration Fees ONLY.  Each attendee is responsible for all other expenses, including travel, lodging, meals, etc.
  4. BEP will only pay registration fees one time per vendor, per calendar year to attend national training conference associated with the Business Enterprise Program.
  5. BEP does not pay registration for spouses that attend with you.

IMPORTANT: DO NOT PAY REGISTRATION FEE WHEN REGISTERING
Be sure to notify Alan Risk once you’ve completed the registration form. Registration fees will be paid by Purchase Order from the State of FL.

Randolph-Sheppard Training

Mississippi State University's National Research & Training Center on Blindness & Low Vision (NRTC) offers educational modules covering important aspects of the Randolph-Sheppard program. While NRTC does not offer continuing education credits for these modules, CEUs are offered internally through the Business Enterprise Program. A list of BEP pre-approved NRTC courses for CEU credit can be found at https://dbs.fldoe.org/BEP/ceu.html.

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Florida Business Enterprise Program

Providing Tools and Support for Legally Blind Vendors in the Food Service Industry

DISCLAIMER: Links on the Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS) website that are directed toward websites outside the DBS, provide additional information that may be useful or interesting and are being provided consistent with the intended purpose of the DBS website. DBS cannot attest to the accuracy of information provided by non-DBS websites. Further, providing links to a non-DBS website does not constitute an endorsement by DBS, the Florida Department of Education or any of its employees, of the sponsors of the non-DBS website or of the information or products presented on the non-DBS website.