For those small, minority, women and service-disabled veteran business owners out there, resources abound to help you compete successfully. You still have to work your plan and deliver excellence without exception. Again, there are tools but YOU must put them to good use. As chair of the Virginia Beach Minority Business Council, I urge you to take advantage of these tools and programs. Many of them are absolutely free. Here is a profile of just one of those tools:
In 1995, Virginia Beach City Council recognized a community need and created the Minority Business Council (MBC). Virginia Beach harnessed community involvement to help shape its Minority Participation Contracting Program. In 2004, City Council approved initiatives geared toward increasing participation by minority-owned, woman-owned and small businesses in City procurements and contracts. At its August 2004 retreat, minority business initiatives were identified as one of City Council’s top priorities.
For the past eleven years, the MBC has hosted annual conferences and expos. During this event, awards are presented to small, woman, minority, and last year we added service disabled veteran-owned businesses category.
In partnership with Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprise, (DMBE), Virginia Department of Business Assistance (DBA) and U.S. Small Business Administration (US SBA), the MBC has hosted educational/networking events for minority businesses to increase awareness of City initiatives and contracting opportunities. The City’s Purchasing Division conducts quarterly Vendors Training. In the City libraries, interested businesses can complete and return a “business survey”. The MBC Associates Program was also implemented to enable additional members of the community to participate in MBC activities as well as advance its mission and vision. The MBC continuously seeks those interested in its vision and mission to apply for membership in its Associates Program.
At this point, Virginia Beach has developed various approaches geared toward implementation of inclusive internal policies to increase diversity and inclusion with minority businesses without consultants and without set-asides. Under a Memorandum of Understanding, DMBE provides access to their Hampton Roads regional database of certified Small, Woman and Minority (SWaM) businesses. These data are subsequently posted on the MBC web site www.vbgov.com/mbc on a quarterly basis. It can be used by prime contractors seeking small, woman, minority and/or service disabled veteran owned businesses as potential subcontractors or for potential team arrangements or joint ventures. Conversely, the database can also be used by small, woman, minority and service disabled veteran-owned businesses to seek out potential prime contractors.
City staff revised the MBC web site to make it a better tool and resource. Internally, small purchase training is conducted and the City promotes use of an interactive CD for starting a business in Virginia Beach which Virginia Beach Economic Development provides and is available at City public libraries. Also, internal administrative directives have been implemented and/or updated. Specifically, one administrative directive implemented a policy to enhance awareness of the need, and the accountability, for increasing the participation of woman and minority-owned businesses in City procurements and contracts. This directive also was designed to foster maximum practicable opportunities to such businesses.
As an organization, the entire City has made diversity and inclusion with minority businesses a priority with fewer silos and more of a team approach. In an effort to strengthen construction and architecture & engineering and professional contract awards/expenditures with woman and minority-owned businesses, the City requires submittal of a woman and minority participation plan for all professional and construction contracts over $50,000. Another key component designed to increase participation in City contracts is a resolution issued by City Council. The resolution sets a ten percent (10%) goal in all of the City’s competitive expenditures be made to minority-owned businesses and that the ten percent goals shall apply to each of the following three categories individually: goods and services; construction; and architectural and engineering services. If during the completion of the required woman, minority participation plan a prime contractor is interested in locating potential subcontractors, the City’s Minority Business Coordinator, Barbara Booker-Williams, is available to provide assistance in that area. You may reach her at 757-385-4438.
So as you can see, this is just one tool in just one city. I plan to provide you with other useful tools to help my fellow small, women, minority and service disabled veteran business owners to greater business success!
Delceno C. Miles is President/CEO of The Miles Agency in Virginia Beach, VA, and can be reached at 757-499-9627 or firstname.lastname@example.org.