Bronx PTAC is Honing the Art of Making Strategic Moves

Since 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo have continued to increase their commitment to strongly support the success of minority- and women-owned businesses (M/WBEs) in New York and to increase contracting opportunities, with Mayor de Blasio creating the Office of M/WBEs and appointing a Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives in an ambitious goal of awarding at least 30 percent of the dollar amount of City contracts to M/WBEs by 2021. SoBro’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) partnership has been working since 1991 to support city entrepreneurs with the assistance needed to navigate the competitive road to growing their businesses by obtaining certifications qualifying them for these city, state, and federal government contracts–a process in which it is easy to become lost or discouraged.

“Mayor de Blasio has created the Office of M/WBEs and appointed a Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives in an ambitious goal of awarding at least 30 percent of the dollar amount of City contracts to M/WBEs by 2021.”

In 2010, Bronx-born entrepreneur, Linder Washington, came to SoBro/PTAC with her sights set on expanding her janitorial services company. She’d begun her home-based business in 2007, and after attending a city workshop, she was referred to SoBro in 2010 by a Small Business Administration (SBA) administrator. At that time, she had a couple of successful and happy clients, two full-time employees, and the determination that she would see her company grow. She brought her very simple business plan to Evangeline Gelladola, SoBro Assistant Vice President of Procurement and MWBE Programs, who urged her to think more concretely about her goals for her business, afterwhich Ms. Washington was able to write a robust and winning business plan and returned to follow the next steps of preparing to become MWBE-certified to take advantage of local government contract opportunities. Working with SoBro/PTAC, Ms. Washington obtained New York city and state MWBE certifications, as well as her System for Award Management (SAM) registration in October 2011.

Ms. Gelladola recognized in completing Ms. Washington’s assessment that, based on her capability statement and on the strength of the references established with her current clients, she would benefit from applying for the 8(a) Business Development Program–a business assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses that helps aspiring entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in federal government contracting. Additionally, Ms. Washington was encouraged to apply for HUBZone certification—a strategic certification which allows her to be prepared to receive additional contracts with federal agencies should she face an unexpected downturn.

Ms. Washington’s business, BE Washington Maintenance, provides both public and private janitorial services throughout New York. By July 2012, Ms. Washington had, in addition to her maintaing her small local-business clients, won a contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide cleaning services for two recruitment offices in NY. As she’s continued working with SoBro/PTAC Assistant Director, Andrew Hyman, Ms. Washington has been able to get help to maintain her re-certifications. Mr. Hyman also discovered that, through the Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund, Ms. Washington was eligible for a financial loan which allowed her to buy a van to make it easier to travel to her client sites.

Today, Ms. Washington has grown BE Washington Maintenance to manage eleven additional Corps of Engineers recruitment locations and hire four additional full-time employees. Ms. Washington is scheduled to return to SoBro/PTAC in July 2018 for assistance with restructuring her sole proprietorship into a limited liability corporation (LLC) in order to gain the advantages of incorporating her small business.

U.S. government agencies buy a lot from small businesses–the latest figures are at nearly $100 billion worth of goods and services each year! SoBro/PTAC has extensive experience and resources to offer for free to small business owners like Linder Washington to successfully navigate through the sometimes overwhelming process of certifications and regulatory formalities necessary to do business in the vast, and highly competitive, public sector.

For more information about SoBro’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), contact info@sobroptac.org.

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