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Office of Economic Opportunity helps small businesses succeed

Program makes it easier for contractors to become certified

10/31/2013, 9 a.m.
Miami-Dade County is calling all small and minority-owned businesses looking to broaden their horizons. Brian Williams, development officer of the ...
Getting help to start up a local business can make a difference.

Miami-Dade County is calling all small and minority-owned businesses looking to broaden their horizons. Brian Williams, development officer of the Office of Economic Opportunity [OEO] is looking to assist those who want to grow their business and make sure they stay in the black.   

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Williams

As Miami-Dade County Public School’s administrative team enters its first year of projects, there are a host of jobs available including construction management for miscellaneous projects, architectural/engineering project consultants and sub-contractors.

Williams, who was appointed in February 2012, says he is passionate about reaching the community and getting more businesses certified. Once businesses become certified they can then begin to bid on projects. The OEO serves as a developmental program and a segue to get those small firms certified and “ready, willing and able.”

As their mission statement reads on their website, “OEO promotes the economic development and growth of small/micro business enterprises and minority/women business enterprises through its certification program, community outreach programs, contract review and monitoring activities in addition to ongoing interaction with other municipal agencies, quasi-public agencies and local marketplace.”

“We want to make the process easier,” M-DCPS Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said.

According to Williams, after seeking suggestions from the community he learned that some found the certification process to be tedious and difficult.

“In the upcoming week, we are announcing to the community that if you’re already certified with the County, then you will automatically be certified with us,” he said.

Monthly info sessions kicked off

Last Tuesday, the OEO presented its first “Coffee with the Community: A Conversation with the OEO Director.” The hour-long informative discussion was held in the school board administration building’s main auditorium. New business opportunities and recommendations for improving one’s chances of being awarded contracts were shared with those who attended.

The presence of small/minority construction companies is prevalent however, the OEO is looking for more procurement of goods and services businesses.

And keeping up with technology, businesses can now access information about the OEO on Twitter and Facebook.

“The hardest thing to do is to develop programs when there is no one in the program,” Williams said. “You can create them but if we don’t have a pool of individuals involved, then it doesn’t give us anyone to chose from — we need at least three.”

The superintendent and board members have shown their support throughout Williams’ short tenure.

School Board Member Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall introduced an item at a recent school board meeting that would give the OEO voting representation on competitive selection committees.

“The OEO ensures that small and micro business enterprises can maximize the opportunity to do business with the Board, she said.

“It just made sense that the person who is supposed to look out for small business interests is able to participate and vote on these critical selection committees, especially during the bond’s rollout. It took a while but we got it done.”

Williams says he hopes that apathy, which has been the sentiment of many business owners, will change.

“It’s a new day, we’re making a lot of changes, we’re getting the word out and we want people to believe in the process.”