Office of Children and Family Services

New York State Commission for the Blind

Business Enterprise Program Video Transcript

(Narrator) Did you ever dream of managing a business? The Business Enterprise Program can make it happen. The Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped of The New York State Office of Children and Family Services presents The Business Enterprise Program.

(Narrator) Vending machines and retail stores are putting money in the pockets of small business entrepreneurs like Liz Nunez. She manages a store in a government building.

(Liz Nunez speaking) "It's priceless to go in and work for yourself, be independent, be your own boss, be able to make money for yourself and better your own life."

(Narrator) Helping its members achieve success is the mission of the Business Enterprise Program Director Debbie Lomma.

(Debbi speaking) "There are so many safety nets in this program. As long as you're willing to work hard and work with the Commission for the Blind you're going to be successful.

(Narrator) Before you get a key and a license to operate a facility the Business Enterprise Program prepares you.

(Debbi Lomma speaking again) "In addition to being a New York state resident eighteen years of age and be legally blind a person in order to become a program manager must successfully complete a training program. Our training program is two parts, one part an academic program and the other part an on-the-job training program."

(Narrator) Where trainees point their new skills to work in three different business enterprise facilities, managing a retail store managing and servicing vending machines at one location as well as a route with several locations of vending machines.

(Debbi speaking again) "Some people ask 'What's the difference between the Business Enterprise Program as opposed to someone opening up the business on their own?' and I would say there are many differences. One of the big differences is that we provide ongoing support so once a person finishes the training program and is deemed capable of running one of our facilities that's not the end of our support."

(Narrator) Business Enterprise Specialists like Tim Sy are a key component of that support.

(Debbi Lomma speaking again) "Our specialists are responsible for making sure they meet with our managers at least on a monthly basis to make sure that their financial numbers are in order, to make sure they're following the rules and regulations of the program, but mostly to provide support to make sure that that person is going to be a successful manager of the program. If the manager runs into problems it's the specialist who will go in and work with that that person one on one to resolve the problems."

(Tim Sy speaking) "The onus is on you to be successful and to make money and to, for some, make a lot of money."

(Narrator) On average a manager earns $35,000.00 a year. Some are earning more than a $100,000.

(Debbi Lomma speaking again) "Most people when they come out of the training program do not have the skills to manage one of the large facilities, so they start off at one of the smaller facilities and work their way up. So this is definitely a career opportunity for people. It's not 'Let's get you into this basic job' and there's no place to go."

"...And it's a career" (Express Stop manager Charley Richardson) "You might start in a smaller store, but as time goes on other people retire, move on and the opportunities open up and you can climb the ladder right up to something extremely lucrative."

(Tim Sy speaking again) "In this program you are the manager. You're not an employee of the Business Enterprise Program. You're a member of the Business Enterprise Program."

(Narrator) And as a member of the Business Enterprise Program you are entitled to some benefits; a medical insurance reimbursement program, life insurance, a pension program. Unlike a private business the facility is rent-free. There's no utility charges and you don't pay for equipment or repairs.

(Debbi Lomma speaking again) "So in addition to your refrigerators, and your racks and any of the other equipment you need to be able to service your customers you're also going to be equipped with adaptive equipment."

(Narrator) Talking cash registers, ID Mates that read barcodes, bill identifiers: coin and bill counters. But at the end of the day it may be the intangible benefits that matter most.

(Express Stop manager Charley Richardson speaking again) "Sometimes it's just about the satisfaction at the end of the day that people are happy with the service that you provided them."

(Another unidentified Express Stop manager speaking) "I have my own business. I control my little destiny."

End of voiceover, music comes in.

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