About 25 business owners learned about the importance of M/WBE certification at HISD’s monthly Workshop Wednesday held July 10.
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“Being certified has been really valuable for our work,” said Courtney Harper, panelist and owner of the architecture firm of Courtney Harper + Partners. “It’s opened doors and I’ve been able to get my foot in at great institutions.”The workshop comes as the district is preparing its first phase of construction under the $1.89 2012 bond program that will replace or rebuild 40 schools across the city. So far, the district has awarded 29 contracts in the program, including one for Harper’s firm, which secured a design contract to help renovate middle school restrooms.
Participation by minority and women-owned business owners at this point in the 2012 bond program is at about 51 percent. HISD wants to build on that success by offering workshops and outreach events to encourage more M/WBEs to do business with the school district.
At the event on Wednesday, attendees also heard from other panelists and HISD vendors, including Brown Henderson of Urban Circle and Roger Jackson of Jackson Pest Control on how to get contracts with HISD and what steps to take after getting certified through City of Houston, WBEA and HMSDC – all accepted by HISD.
“Once you gain access, it’s up to you to prove yourself,” Harper said. “In the world of M/WBEs, it’s competitive so being able to perform and do what’s expected is really important.”
Panelists urged the audience to attend the HISD’s pre-bidding events to network in addition to working with the district’s Office Business Assistance and Supplier Diversity team to navigate through the RFQ or RFP process.
“They’re a great asset and they offered us different ideas on how to market our products,” Henderson said.
Workshop attendee Pat Nowotny is familiar with the district’s RFQ process. He was awarded a graphic production contract under the 2007 bond program.
Nowotny hopes to bid on more projects under the 2012 bond program and he said more M/WBEs should take advantage of events like “Workshop Wednesday.”
“These events are good for business owners to connect with HISD and say ‘we’re here, we want to work with you’ and to build relationships,” Nowotny said.
HISD’s Office of Business Assistance hosts a monthly workshop the first Wednesday of every month.