We've been working with the city of Miramar, FL for the last couple years. Miramar has a very diverse business community and have a wide variety of business attraction and expansion efforts that promotes business success in South Florida.
Through Bludot, the city’s Economic Development and Revitalization department has been able to gather and track information on businesses to assist with a multitude of initiatives, such as their Business Inclusion Diversity Program to better support women and minority business founders in their community.
Read more about our conversation below to hear how data and Bludot has taken Miramar to the next level.
Tell me about your roles and how long you’ve been with Miramar:
Richard: My title is the Assistant Director of The Economic Development and Revitalization Department. I’ve been with the city for over 20 years and my current role is to assist the director with the operations of the department.
Paul: I’m Paul and I’m the Economic Development Specialist and I do a lot of outreach and data gathering and mining of information.
Tell me a little bit more about what Miramar is known for:
Richard: It’s a suburban community that's a great place to raise a family, it’s got anything you’d want in terms of parks, housing selection, community involvement, and a diverse population. It’s close enough to the bigger metro areas of Fort Lauderdale and Miami and the beach as well.
Paul: To add on that, the median age for residents is 35, so that gives you an image of how diverse and active Miramar is.
I’d love to hear a bit more about the different business expansion initiatives your department has been working on over the past few years that you’ve had success with.
Paul: One of the initiatives was to get the businesses to interact more with our website so we’d be able to have more information about what they do and use that information to share more about how we can help with resources we have available in South Florida.
With Bludot Open, we’ve been able to really help the businesses in our community by having a list of all the local businesses within our city, so if someone wants to find a local Jamaican restaurant open at 6 AM, they can find it on our site which is a win for us to get the consumer to support local as well as the restaurant owner as well. It’s easier to use Bludot instead of just Googling that question to support local businesses this way. We’ve also been working on building up local art and grants for local businesses.
Richard: We’ve been doing more for small businesses than any other group, we had a stimulus grant during the pandemic for small businesses with five or fewer employees and provided $1.75 million through two rounds of grants and helped hundreds of businesses. We also partner heavily with the Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, SBA and the Small Business Development Center at Florida Atlantic University to provide business outreach, coaching, and mentoring.
Our staff spends a lot of time going out and meeting with businesses to share resources to see how we can help them be more successful. We also have programs on the corporate and international levels to help grow our footprint in South Florida.
You mentioned how you’re engaging with your local businesses and using Bludot to track these meetings and interactions, I’d love to hear more about the impact Bludot has made for your staff by organizing everything in one place.
Richard: It’s helped our staff track how we reach businesses. We have staff that are trying to target minority owned businesses, so by populating different categories within Bludot with what these businesses do and creating different labels, we can target these businesses when we have contracts with the city available. We had no way to do this before and we're just using business tax information which has limitations.
Paul: We’ve been able to get more cohesive and relevant data from the businesses and when businesses update their profiles on Bludot Open, we get the most up to date information. When we go meet businesses in person, we can use the survey functionality to update business records when collecting information.
I’d love to hear more from you about how you’re tracking minority and women owned businesses and track vendors to the city as well and how that’s helped your BR&E by having that data.
Paul: We have a program called Business Inclusion Diversity Program that seeks to bring minority, small business, woman owned, and disadvantaged businesses into the contracting aspect as well as the webinars we are hosting to help join the conversation. Bludot is helping us because we used to have a lot of information distributed in a lot of different ways, now we can use Bludot and also update the profiles with that information. It’s been amazing to structure the inclusivity of these businesses and tag it based on the program we have available.
Richard: We can track who we see year after year and follow up on any notes from previous years which has enhanced our Corporate Outreach program.
Tell me more about your team’s culture:
Paul: Mistakes and coming up with ideas are all welcomed. We strive for our team to work to be the best they can be. We play on our strengths and support each other so that everyone can succeed and that we can make the best use of the resources that we have. And we have fun doing it - we spend most of our days at work so we might as well have fun doing it.
Richard: By having a lot of team members who are open to technology, it helps us be able to invest in tools that play upon our strengths and trust each other to ask questions as we are learning new things.
Do you have any advice for other cities who are looking to expand their Business Retention & Expansion programs?
Richard: Take a look at how you’re doing it now and compare it to what tracking a tool like Bludot could do for you because having a tool to help us manage everything outside of spreadsheets and manual entry has really helped our initiatives become a lot more organized and do things that we didn’t know we could do. We definitely recommend all communities to take a look at Bludot.
Paul: We’re a small community to some extent and found that this is a better way of doing it for us. The best thing you can do is just try a smarter and faster way, the worst you can do is fail but at least you tried and you learned.
Richard: If you’re having a hard time budget wise, you have to think of technology as an investment. Once you see the value you get out of Bludot, it’s well worth the time and investment as it saves us so much time and has given us more data than we thought we could collect.
Are there any initiatives that your city or team is working on that you want to showcase?
Paul: What are we not doing? One of the programs we’re really excited about is promoting shopping locally, hopefully through the Bludot Open Rewards.
Richard: I’ve been learning a lot about the custom charts and analytics which I’m excited about using that data from Bludot for our department and management purposes.