Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What is California doing to assist small business?

In a visit to Fresno, Sam Wallace- 56, a former business owner, African-American and the first appointee as the Small Enterprise Officer outlined some ways in which small businesses can access procurement contracts with the state. The three strategies for increasing small business capacity that will assist them in benefiting from the Governor's $107B Strategic Growth Plan through Executive Order S-11-06 include:
  • Recognizing opportunities to do business without being a certified small disabled veteran, minority or women small business (must produce $10M or less in annual revnues)
  • Connecting small business with prime contractors (larger firms doing more than $10M)
  • Connecting the Office of Small Enterprise with the rest of the community- business, nonprofits and workforce/govt. agencies to get the word out
Wallace mentioned some interesting facts:
  • California has about 1.5 million firms/business
  • About 750,000 are eligible to participate in the state's small business program
  • Of those, approximately 2-3% or 15-20 thousand firms are certified in the state as a small or disadvantaged business (over 50% owned by veteran, ethnic minority or woman).
  • Only 42% of them are bidding on state procurment projects and approximately 2000 won a contract, which means only 1% of the qualified small firms are doing business with the state.
This causes a problem- it creates opportunities for out of state and foreign companies to access the billions of dollars procured through California. Even if we usedCalifornia's top 25 contsruction firms, they could only manage approximately 10% ($6.3B) of the state's planned $63B in construction and infrastructure contracts according to Wallace.

So how can small business participate with the state, which was the theme of the conference held in Fresno titled "2006 Contracting Connections"? Wallce, who previously contracted with the state is was the president of Williams-Wallace Managament Consultants. had three words of advice:
  1. Focus in on the services you will provide
  2. Connect with the agencies that best fit your expertise
  3. Develop relationships with staff at the Agency you want to do business with