Office of Business Assistance named Houston’s Community Partner of the Year

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The Houston Independent School District Office of Business Assistance has been named the City of Houston’s Community Partner of the Year for its role in overseeing the Interagency Mentor-Protégé Program.

The Interagency Mentor-Protégé Program — a joint venture launched by HISD, City of Houston, Port of Houston, and METRO — was created to strengthen effective, long-term working relationships between established firms and agencies and emerging historically underutilized businesses by partnering them together.

The established firms serve as mentors, sharing knowledge and experiences that can enhance the new business and broaden the overall base of emerging companies.

“It’s an honor to receive the Community Partner of the Year Award from the City of Houston,” said Alexis Licata, HISD Business Assistance General Manager. “This team works hard to create an atmosphere of inclusiveness and ensure there are fair and equitable opportunities for minority-and women-owned businesses who want to participate in HISD projects.”

The award will be presented Thursday by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner during the 4th Annual Champions of Diversity Awards Ceremony, hosted by the city’s Office of Business Opportunity Advisory Board and held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston.

The honor is bestowed each year on an organization that exemplifies the mission of the Office of Business Opportunity and the Supplier Diversity Program. The goal of both are to create a competitive and diverse business environment through the promotion of local, small businesses — particularly those that are historically underutilized.

Also part of HISD’s Office of Business Assistance is its minority- and women-owned business enterprise program — more commonly known as M/WBE. The program has seen much success, especially among bond projects. The current M/WBE participation rate for 2012 Bond projects is 37 percent — well above the 20 percent goal originally set by program officials.