Titled “Outreach in Action: Small Business Strategies for Success,” the panel for the workshop consisted of speakers from the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Mississippi Development Authority, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
All of these agencies discussed the programs and resources they offer to assist small businesses in gaining contracts with the state and federal governments.
“We’re trying to make sure that we have a full and good understanding as to what is needed in order for us to do business with the state and federal government and for that reason we wanted to bring them together. They exchange information and as we see projects coming in we’ll be able to get more of our local businesses doing business with them, which will put them in a position of being able to hire more individuals so it will be good for the local economy,” said Sen. Willie L. Simmons, who officiated the meeting.
Alice A. Doss, supervisory business opportunity specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration Mississippi District, discussed the importance of filling out essential paperwork and applications for System for Award Management, Small Disadvantaged Business, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business, Woman-Owned Small Business, and the Historically Underutilized Business Zones program, which is meant to empower the community.
SAM puts the small business’s profile and information on a national site so that it is easier for those who need jobs completed to find contractors.
Scott Ferguson from Delta Regional Authority discussed job creation, retention, and their Operation Jumpstart Training program, which helps to take your idea and put it into action.
Derek Finley,from the Minority and Small Business Development Department of the Mississippi Development Authority talked about certifying minority businesses, raising minority business involvement, and giving these businesses access to federal and state contracts.
Finley also discussed the Mississippi Development Authority’s new online registry for minority and women-owned businesses, which will help to increase the businesses visibility and networking abilities.
Carolyn Bell, the civil rights director for the Office of Civil Rights with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, discussed finding upcoming contracting opportunities on their website, www.mdot.ms.gov, and some of the programs that they offer such as the Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE), which focuses on building services and resources that will enable DBE’s to compete with non-DBE’s.
This site allows businesses to get information, purchase plans and proposals for upcoming jobs online, as well as informing these businesses as to who has purchased a proposal, which is key for sub-contractors.
Carr Brown, civil rights specialist from the Mississippi Division of the Federal Highway Administration, talked about the importance of Mississippi Department of Transportation DBE program, the Urban Youth Core, which helps kids get jobs in the summer, and the Summer Transportation Institute, where the kids go stay at universities and learn about being in transportation, small businesses, and what they can do in transportation later.
Larry Davis, Project Manager at Systems Consultants Associates: MDOT DBE Supporive Services, talked about the different services that they offer to provide technical assistance and capacity building for small and disadvantaged businesses such as training, technical assistance, capacity building, mentoring, coaching, business plans, marketing strategies, and customer services.
After being certified as a DBE, Systems Consultants Associates will send the business a list of jobs that are available, how to contact people for these jobs, and sorts through the jobs to find the ones that might interest the business the most.
Andrea Hendricks, executive director of Small Business Capital Fund of MS, Inc., talked about pitching your company, networking, volunteering, and working together with other local businesses.
The meeting ended with questions and comments from local business people about the things that were discussed.
“We have to get up and work and go after what we desire in our hearts. The business is there. We have to learn how to go out among other people rather than just the people here. I had to learn that I want to go elsewhere. If they open up an opportunity for me, I’m willing to go,” said Cynthia Blockett, a DBE contractor based out of Jackson.