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Minority business leaders learn certification process for state contracts

By Liz Moomey
liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Minority business owners on Friday participated in a certification training through the N.C. Historically Underutilized Businesses Office (HUB) at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

HUB partnered with the N.C. Department of Transportation Office of Civil Rights and the city of Salisbury to walk about 40 business owners through the process of becoming state certified to get state contract opportunities.

The training was a part of Gov. Roy Cooper declaring October as Minority Enterprise Development Month. Dept. of Administration Deputy Secretary Christy Agner, NCDOT’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification Officer Elizabeth Cruz, HUB Community Specialists Melissa Terrell and Alisha Puckett presented the certification training.

“The State of N.C. is pleased to celebrate Minority Enterprise Development Month Entrepreneurship in Rowan County,” Agner said. “As a native of Rowan County, I know we have the educational institutions and business support services to equip diverse individuals to succeed as entrepreneurs. Diverse entrepreneurship encourages innovation and supports thriving communities which drive economic growth and stability.”

Cruz said the NCDOT is in desperate need to award contracts for paving, striping, installing guardrails and sidewalks.

For business owners that don’t provide those services, Mayor Al Heggins reminded participants that they don’t have to fall into that particular box to benefit from the certification.

“She gives you a few examples, but don’t limit yourself, because what if you do information technology and you fly drones,” Heggins asked. “We want you to expand your thinking today as you’re going through the certification process.”

An example of an expanding business might be one selling clothes or cookies and be interested in becoming a concession in an airport. A growing service is debris cleanup from major weather events.

Ebony Fair, a house cleaner at Caring Cleaners, said she was going to look into adding a debris clean-up service after learning about the need.

Cruz reminded those in attendance that the NCDOT certification doesn’t guarantee government projects but gives businesses a good advantage.

The DBE basic eligibility criteria includes social disadvantage that is minority of women-owner, economic disadvantage of having a personal net worth of less than $1.32 million, small business size limits, ownership being at least 51% by a disadvantaged member(s) and control. 

The HUB Certification categories are minority (which are black, Hispanic, Asian American and American Indian), female disabled and disadvantage. Applicants only need to be one of the four. The certification will put business owners into a vendor lists to receive bid opportunities statewide.

RCCC Small Business Center Director Barbara Hall encouraged business owners to go after contracts because those with work won’t seek the owners out.

“Your phone will not ring even if you are certified,” Hall said. “You have to go to the meetings. You have to show up. You have to know the people involved. You have to network with them.”

Hall said she would be willing to work with any business owner that needed help going through the certification process. 

Heggins and Hall were also presented Governor Cooper’s MED month proclamation in support of their commitment to historically underutilized businesses and the HUB program.

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