Workshop to target small, minority-owned businesses

Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 6:58 p.m.

Small- and minority-owned business owners will learn about the process involved in getting contracts to do business with the city of Gainesville and Gainesville Regional Utilities at a workshop sponsored by the city of Gainesville Office of Equal Opportunity.



What: Office of Equal Opportunity Small Business Workshop.
When: 4-7 p.m. Oct. 10. RSVP by Thursday.
Where: GRU, 301 SE 4th Ave.
Information: Call 352-334-5051.

The workshop will be held from 4-7 p.m. Oct. 10 in the conference room at GRU at 301 SE 4th Ave. The deadline to RSVP is Thursday.

Sylvia Warren, small and minority business coordinator with the OEO, said the workshop will be a chance for business owners to meet city and GRU staff, learn what types of purchases the city and GRU make and how to find out about purchasing opportunities. She said the workshop is being co-sponsored by the Santa Fe College Center for Innovation and Economic Development and the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

During the workshop, officials from the CIED center, a small business incubator, will discuss how it helps to enhance economic development and job creation in the community by providing support and services to qualified start-up companies.

Staci Bertram, business opportunity manager at the Chamber, will discuss ways to help business owners design or redesign business plans aimed at business growth. Also, Warren will discuss the services offered by her office.

Warren said the workshop will be a great way for businesses to learn how the purchasing contract system works with the city and GRU. She said the city and GRU award contracts for more than just building construction projects, such as janitorial, maintenance and a host of other services.

"Knowing how to go about getting these contracts, knowing who to speak to, knowing what bids are out there, all of those things are very important," Warren said.

Cecil Howard, OEO director, said the workshop will definitely be worthwhile.

"The workshop is being held to open up this whole process," he said. "A lot of small business owners would like to do business with the city, but they just don't because they don't understand the process. Our goal is just to simplify this whole process."

Warren said besides the workshop, she is a resource that businesses can use throughout the year. She encourages small- and minority business owners to attend pre-bid meetings so they can network with bigger businesses.

"You may not carry $1 million worth of bond insurance, but if you go to these pre-bid meetings and meet the people who have that kind of insurance, you can possibly form a subcontracting partnership with them," Warren said.

She said someone at the pre-bid meeting will more than likely be awarded the contract, and if it is for a construction project, the general contractor will need subcontractors to provide concrete, post-construction clean-up and other services.

"There are all kinds of opportunities out there, but networking and getting to know the larger business owners is very important in order to take advantage of some of those opportunities," Warren said.

Warren said her office provides free or discounted bid documents, increase the opportunity for small and minority businesses to participate in city contracts, add businesses to the city's qualified local small business directory, give technical assistance in preparing bids and other resources and services that promote business growth.

"I can assist people over the phone or they can come in my office and I will walk them through whatever they are trying to do, hands on," Warren said.

Mamma Mia closes

The second incarnation of Mamma Mia Pizzeria closed at the end of business Sept. 14.

The restaurant was at 490 NE 23rd Ave.

The owners could not be reached for comment but did post the following farewell on Facebook: "We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our guests for the support that everyone has shown. It has been an amazing journey and we have no regrets. My wife and I have made amazing friends and consider ourselves extremely blessed to have had the opportunity to share our table with you."

A prior post implored customers to "help out your local family owned pizzeria. We need support to continue to grow."

Property owner Mo Rajaee said the business owners had mentioned that an investor or partner had pulled out. He said he has a few restaurants interested in moving in.

The Adamos opened Mamma Mia in October 2012 after the previous owners closed shop that August.

— Anthony Clark. Anthony Clark is the Gainesville Sun business editor.

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