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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Q.C.'s small business task force

Posted By on Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 11:56 AM

The words "task force" always sound a little daunting to me — a little too military, a little too rigid. But, that's how it goes when the government gets involved. Charlotte's new small business task force will require participants to adhere to a certain protocol if they want to play. However, it seems as though abundant rewards await those willing to jump through the city's hoops.

The first step, though, involves appointed city officials. Mayor Anthony Foxx has requested a review of the Small Business Opportunities Program. The goal? Streamline the process for adding small businesses to the city's vendor list to ensure those same businesses get a fair shake when up against the big boys for a city contract.

Here's a snippet from a Mecklenburg Times article on the issue, by Sam Boykin:

The program, which began in 2003, is designed to enhance competition in city contracting and promote economic growth and development.

It does this through a certification process, said SBOP Manager Nancy Rosado. The city certifies certain companies as Small Business Enterprises (SBE) based upon owners’ personal net worth and other criteria.

For example, in order to qualify, 51 percent of a company’s ownership can’t have a personal net worth in excess of $750,000. Companies must also be located in the eight-county Charlotte region, have all relevant licenses, and perform a commercial function that is useful to the city.

Eligible companies have their information added to a citywide vendor list, are notified of contracting opportunities, and receive guidance on how to do business with the city. There are currently 794 city-certified SBEs.

While the city will work with all companies, Rosado said that with many of the city’s procurement contracts, goals are established for the utilization of SBEs.

“When a project is locally funded, we require contractors to meet small business utilization goals or show they made a good faith effort to reach those goals,” she said.

Wesley Carter, a task force member and publisher of business magazine Working Charlotte, said she hopes the task force will be able to effect much-needed change.

“Small businesses and entrepreneurs have toiled in relative obscurity for far too long while providing much of the infrastructure that supports Charlotte,” she said. “I’d like for us to recognize small businesses as a powerful constituency and remove barriers to them being able to participate, especially in terms of contracts with the city.”

Click here to read the entire article.

In other news: The county is hosting an information session for non-profits looking for funding. Read about it here.

The big wigs in Washington are also finding ways to boost small business (fast forward to 1:00 to get past all of the introductions):

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