Minority business owners in Tampa now have an easier and quicker way to become certified, opening the door for increased exposure and business opportunities.
The Women/Minority Business Enterprise (WMBE)/Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) certification program
allows women and minority businesses in Tampa to become certified and then placed on a list to enable them to bid for contract opportunities with the City. The program is free and open to businesses that have been in operation for a minimum of one year and who fill out an application and provide the required documentation.
Noting that the certification process can be difficult for some and can take up to 60 to 90 days to complete, The City of Tampa Mayor’s African American Advisory Council
(MAAAC) partnered with the City of Tampa
to create a fast-track option. Businesses that complete the program can become certified within one week.
The first in a series of events was held October 30 to help qualified businesses expedite the certification or recertification process. Experts assisted with the application process and also provided tips for navigating the City’s online system.
"It allowed us to learn what people actually needed," says Chandra Lee, MAAAC Chairperson. "We’re really excited about being able to help people to become certified with the city so they can get more procurement opportunities."
A total of 24 businesses attended the event, which MAAAC plans to repeat in the near future. Attendees included a fencing company, land development firm, a DJ and several consultants.
In addition to being able to bid on city projects, certified businesses are placed on a list for referrals that are received by the city. For example, a local hair dresser might be needed for a fashion show or concert that comes to town.
"They know if you’re certified, you’re a real business that they can trust and hire," says Lee.