‘Workshop Wednesday’ event offers strategies for local businesses

HISD’s Business Assistance Supplier Diversity team joined Jamail and Smith Construction recently to help 20  local business professionals pitch their products and services during August’s Workshop Wednesday event.

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“I personally know how tough it is to do business when you’re a small business owner,” said Juan Maldonado, Business Development Manager at Jamail and Smith. “Not only do you have to know what it is you’re doing, but you also have to sell yourself.”

The HISD Business Assistance office leads a small and minority- and women-owned business enterprises (M/WBE) program in which prime contractors are required to meet a specific M/WBE participation goal in the project scope of work. The department also sponsors an Interagency Mentor-Protégé Program with the city, Metro and the Port to help small businesses and M/WBEs improve business plans and leverage new opportunities.

During the monthly workshop, which is held every first Wednesday of each month, Maldonado offered tips and strategies to the business owners on how to successfully network and earn new business opportunities. He explained that while branding and marketing materials are essential, it is important to perform research on a company and know what service potential service can be provided before pitching their business.

“You have to know who your potential client is,” Maldonado said . “Don’t ever be afraid to ask.”

Bernard Willingham, HISD Team Lead for Supplier Diversity, said he sees growth in the program. He encouraged participants to attend future workshops and to stay updated on projects and opportunities across the district.

“If we continue to keep doing these workshops, and people keep learning and benefiting, these local businesses will be our suppliers,” said Willingham. “They will be able to win contracts.”

Elizabeth Alford of Amtect Building Sciences, a building envelope architect firm, says she regularly attends Workshop Wednesday and enjoys sharing what she learns with other local businesses.

“Ever since [HISD Supplier Diversity] started this program, it has been so helpful,” Alford said. “Although the subject didn’t pertain to me directly, I still knew I was going to get something out of it.”