Stumper Detail

Date: Friday, March 17, 2000 
Question/Topic: I am a Brevard Community College student in the process of preparing a business plan. I intend to open up a small greeting card/gift store in the Palm Bay area. I have prepared the majority of the business plan, but am having a hard time locating information needed to prepare that financial projections portion of the plan. I am aware that this section is composed of "fictional numbers." I spoke to Tony Brown, a business teacher, at the Melbourne campus. He advised that I should obtain the fictional numbers from annual reports of similar business in the area. He also advised that I contact the Economic Developement Comission. I have searched libraries, databases, and the internet. I have not been able to find the actual reports on any such businesses. However, I was able to locate the annual report form for several. I am in need of the actual business reports containing their actual numbers. I am also trying to find out the number of households and income ranges of the surrounding area. (roughly a 30 mile radius) We plan on locating on the West side of Palm Bay Road, between Babcock street and Minton. In addition, I am also in need of data or statistics on the greeting/gift shop industry in this area, trends, and any other information that is useful in preparing a business plan. 
Answer/Pointer: All companies in Florida file what are referred to as Annual Reports with the Dept. of State's Division of Corporations, and many of these are available to view on the division's search tool located at the following web page: However, these documents appear to simply provide an update to the points of contact information for the company and don't provide the kind of information you are looking for. I spoke with an individual in the Division of Corporations who was not aware of a requirement for companies to file annual reports with the state which would provide the kind of detail you are looking for. If you want to look at what's available from the site above, it's a bit confusing, but not difficult. Click on the button that reads "Online searches and Document Images." Select "corporations, trademarks, and limited partnerships." Click in the button next to corporation/trademark name, then type a name in the box below and click on the search button. For example, I entered flowers. Click on the number of the record you want to look at. At the bottom of the screen, select, "Document Image." Click in the button next to Request and click on Submit. The next screen indicates that the document will be available momentarily. Go ahead and click where it says to "Click here to resubmit." Now click in the button next to the document you want to view labeled download and submit. On the next screen, click on "click here to download." A window will appear to either open a file or save it to disk. Select "Open it" and select OK. A new browser window will appear containing the document image. As you will see, there is not much information you will be able to use in these documents. AFter all that, the only thing I can suggest to get copies of the annual reports you need is to contact the company to see if they will provide you with a copy. Regarding the number of households and income levels in your projected area, you can obtain census statitics to the census tract level from the following web site: Census tracts are fixed "locations" that are generally bounded by streets. I'm not familiar with the Palm Bay Area. I looked on the Census Tract map for Palm Bay and found Minton Road and Babcock Street, but did not see Palm Bay Road. The area I assume you are referring to is bounded by S.Hwy 516, Babcock St., a drainage canal, and Minton Rd. I-95 cuts diagonally through this area and splits it into two census tracts. The two possible Census tracts are: 713.21 (closest to Minton Road) and 651.21 (closest to Babcock St.). I did not measure what census tracts would fall within a 30 mile radius. Nearby tracts include 651.22, 651.01, 650.21, 713.01, 713.31, 713.22, 652.02, 652.01 (on the Indian River), and 651.23 (on the Indian River). If this geography doesn't sound right, there are several options for you to look at the area. You can check your local public library or communtiy college library to see if they have a copy of these paper maps in their collection (probably the main library building rather than one of the branches) so you can find the right area. If you have a fax number, I can photocopy and fax you the section of the map I'm looking at. You can also view the tracts on the lookup web site provided above. The maps come with a corresponding book containing the population and housing statistics by census tract and block numbering area. The volume for Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay, FL MSA is numbered 1990 CPH-3-226 at the top right. You can also get the data from the lookup web site provided above. When you get to, select STF3A under choose a database to browse. Click in the button next to Go to level State--County (*Tracts and Block Groups), select Florida from the list of states and submit. On the next screen, again click in the button next to Go to level State--County--Census Tract (*Block Groups), select Brevard county and submit. On the next screen, leave the default at the top of the radio buttons, and select the tracts you want. Select more than one by holding down the CTRL key on the keyboard as you click on the tract number. Submit. Choose tables. P5 is households and and P80 is HOUSEHOLD INCOME IN 1989. Scroll to the top and submit. Submit again to read as HTML file. If you want to view a map of the area, stop at the point where you are selecting the tract numbers. You can only view one map at a time, so select one. At the top, click in the radio button next to View map of the area. Submit. The next screen has two maps. The top is of the U.S., the botto is a blow up of the tract area. You can click on the yellow marker to blow this up even more. If you still want to zoom in some more, select that option on the right and click on the map. You can also redraw the map to display census characteristics found at the bottom right of the page. There is a legend underneath the map to the left. These maps don't look very good printed directly from this page. However, they look better if you right click, save the image to a file, open the file in your browser, then print. I have no information on the trends in the greeting/gift shop industry in this area. Many public libraries have business information, or a business CD-ROM, such as the American Business Disk, that you can search by type of business. Some CD-ROMs will provide information such as total sales by the company. Please see your local public or community college library to see what business reference materials they have. Finally, you may find useful the following web page containing information related to starting/running a business in Florida: 
Librarian: SLF 

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