MBE certification provides opportunities

LEANING TOWARD CERTIFICATION—Syreeta Gordon, a startup business speaks with Renee Robinson of the Section 3 Program.

Pleased with the results of the workshop, program chairperson Judith Woodson McNeil assessed that the attendees were very pleased with the information they received. As program coordinator of the Diversity Business
Resource Center she said her organization as well as the sponsoring groups receives so many questions from business owners on the many different certifications that exist. “This Certification and Your Business workshop provided face-to-face interaction with all the certification providers.”
Terina Hicks, one of more than130 entrepreneurs and organization representatives that participated in last week’s workshop confers McNeil’s outlook. “As a woman minority business owner, I attended because I wanted to learn more about the certification process, and which ones may be applicable for my businesses. I received a lot more information than I anticipated. I had no idea that there were so many agencies available to assist in conducting business at a higher level.”
Certification entities on hand included the Pennsylvania Unified Certification Program, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, the Regional Housing Legal Services, and the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council.
Outlined by Cameil D. Williams the DBE Contract Compliance Officer at the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the PA UCP is designed to provide “one-stop shopping” for firms seeking DBE certification focused around Federal Transportation related contracts. She explained that it is recognized by Federal, State and Local governmental entities. Its certifying partners include the Allegheny County Department of MWDBE, the PA Department of Transportation, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, the Southeastern PA Transportation Authority and the City of Philadelphia. Requirements and information can be obtained from its website at; www.paucp.com
Judith Kirby, Business Opportunity Specialist of the SBA outlined their certifications as the 8 (a), the Historically Underutilized Business Zone, the Women Owned Small Business, and the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business. She said the Federal Government has a 23 percent small business goal. For a full explanation of the SBA programs she identified their contact information as www.sba.gov
Based in Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania Department of General Services certification process recently experiencing a reorganization process now functions as the Bureau of Small Business Opportunities. Gayle Nuppnau, Procurement Liaison at the BSBO explained it as being committed to implementing programs that increase contracting opportunities for self-certified small, and verified small diverse businesses. Types of certifications include the Small Business Self-Certification and the Small Diverse Business Verification. Contact information can be found at www.smallbusiness.pa.gov
A tool designed for creating economic opportunities for low-income businesses in Allegheny County, the Regional Housing Legal Services Secation3 Business Certification Program is a provision of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968. Described by RHLS staff Attorney Robert Damewood and Renee Robinson; Section 3 Specialist, the RHLS Section 3 Business Certification Program helps businesses that are owned by low-income people or that hire low-income people in Allegheny County to connect with contracting opportunities on federally-funded projects.  Section 3 agencies in Allegheny County include the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Economic Development, Allegheny County Housing Authority, the City of McKeesport, the McKeesport Housing Authority and the Municipality of Penn Hills. More information can be obtained from their website at www.rhls.org/section3.
With the mission to certify, connect and advocate for its members, Alexander Nichols, President and CEO of the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council indicated that they consist of more than 15,000 minority owned businesses and 3,500 corporate members. Its requirements are to be a for profit business located in the United States, 51 percent ownership, operated and controlled by an ethnic minority. Of the five certifying groups the EMSDC is the only one that carries a fee of between $200 and $1,250. Information on its certification process can be obtained from their website at www.e-msdbc.org.
The WDBE Governmental Committee consists of a group of city, state, county and federal governmental agency representatives.  Its mission is to create effective methods that strengthen economic opportunities for Minority, Women, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and to provide assistance enabling contractors and businesses to secure contracts in the goods and service, construction and professional services markets leading to profitability and growth for the businesses.
Normally conducting one event a year, Hicks the owner of several businesses, Alexander Beasley, a registered master plumber and Syreeta Gordon a branding and social media expert feel there is a need for groups to continuously sponsor such workshops and seminars. “I was impressed with how most of the groups have representatives that will meet with you one on one and help you walk through the whole seemingly intimidating process,” expressed Gordon.


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