WELDON – The Small Business Center at Halifax Community College hosted a seminar on Tuesday with local businesses to help increase local bids with the college.
The purpose of the event stems from a board meeting on April 27, where three companies outside of Halifax and Northampton counties submitted bids for a one-year contract, while there were no local offers. Directors discussed ways to improve awareness of local businesses for contracting to help keep taxpayers’ money local, which ultimately culminated in the seminar.
Read the article “HCC Receives No Local Offers for Projects: Administrators Discuss Ways to Improve Small Business Outreach” on bit.ly/3d4NLOU.
President Michael Elam welcomed guests to the event on behalf of the directors and staff. Elam noted how seminar guests have contributed over the years to help set up the advanced manufacturing and corporate training center, which will be operational in September, through Connect NC Bond Fund.
The Connect NC Bond Fund is part of House Bill 943 to provide funds to update public facilities that include building, repairing, renovating and furnishing new facilities to enhance economic development efforts.
Elam explained that the college received about $ 6.7 million for capital improvements, which were split after administrators agreed to continue with the new manufacturing facility. He said a $ 2 million grant from an economic development agency in Washington, DC, had been added to the fund for a total of $ 5.7 million for the project. Elam said the $ 5.7 million creates opportunities for local and non-local suppliers.
âThis building was made possible thanks to your generosity,â he told guests in the room.
Elam raised concerns from trustees about the tendering process.
âIt seemed like we had few – or fewer local contractors bidding on these projects and how we can keep those funds and turn them into our community,â he said. “We are here today to try to get the word out.”
The presentation led by Nicole Boone, a purchasing agent at the college’s financial services, showed guests how local businesses can find deals through the NC Interactive Buying System, a free electronic system for suppliers to search for opportunities. offers.
The system is offered by the Procurement and Contracts Division of the Administration Department of CN.
Boone explained to guests how to use the system, which offers ways to find deals by category and department.
âA business can go and find out what types of businesses are out there,â she said. âNot only at Halifax Community College, but also at other state agencies. “
Another part of the seminar discussed how qualifying businesses can register as a historically underutilized business.
Boone said HUB certification with the NC HUB Office gives companies greater business opportunities in government procurement and contracting. She said certified members are listed in a system used by state agencies, universities, community colleges, local schools, local governments and the public to locate for goods, services and construction. The HUB service is free and valid for four years, Boone said.
âBoth of these systems are free,â she said. âNo cost to you. “
However, according to the NCDOA Hub website, qualifications to be HUB certified require 51% ownership of a business and day-to-day management and business operations controlled by one of the following:
â¢ Black, Hispanic, Asian American, or American Indian
â¢ Socially and economically disadvantaged person
A question-and-answer session followed the presentation, which surprised many guests when they learned that IPS and HUB exist to help companies find bidding opportunities.
Boone then asked everyone in the room how they received information about offers and jobs.
Discussions surrounded social media and the use of the Google search engine to find job postings.
Boone said they will also start posting offers on the university’s Facebook page.
Ginny Lewis, CEO and President of the Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Susan Simmons, Education Partnership Manager, also attended the seminar and presented the purpose of their organization.
Lewis said the room is for local business owners.
âIt is not my entity, it is your entity,â she said. âAnd that’s your membership – yes, you pay a membership fee to be a member, but use it. Use it to your full advantage.
Lewis said it’s important to be partners because of the resources the chamber offers with newsletters and networking between companies, including HCC.
âWhatever they do, we can share it with our business community and that’s where it is,â she said.
Elam said the goal of the SBC is to help businesses thrive and to help start and support more businesses.
âBut proud business owners who need help will not seek help,â he said. “And what’s going on? Their business goes bankrupt. Our efforts now are to reach out to let you know that there are resources out there. We want to help you succeed. We want you to be able to participate in the tendering process, in the contracting process. “
Elam said it could be with HCC or some other agency that needs a particular service.
The Herald asked Elam during the session about the issue where companies outside of Halifax and Northampton counties can outbid local companies on many projects. Many local business owners may not pursue HCC projects when competing businesses may come up with a lower offer when local owners need a larger profit margin to reinvest in their business to grow.
Elam said it was a concern and it was a competitive business.
âBecause we are a public entity, anyone can bid,â he said.
Elam said HCC often has larger companies outside of Halifax County to bid on projects, which creates competition for local suppliers. He added that sometimes when the offers are reviewed, due to the size of the campus and the projects, it is discovered that the projects end up in the âTwilight Zoneâ. Elam said the projects may be too big for small businesses which are too small for projects large businesses outside the region can take on.
âThese are the kinds of issues we face with any offer,â he said. âWe could have a local supplier doing air conditioning and we are trying to install a new chiller on a building. We kicked off the offer, but this local business doesn’t feel like they have the workforce that can do it and still make money off the bill. So they don’t bid on it.
“Or they made an offer, but the company receiving the offer responded to the RFP [request for proposal] data because they have more experience and so on.
Later, director Kelly Barber of the Small Business Center was asked how she felt about the seminar. Barber said she was happy with the 15 in-person appearances.
âI was delighted with our participation in the event and particularly excited by our immediate feedback from attendees describing the presentation as ‘very useful’ and ‘easy’ to understand,â she said.
Barber said the SBC was able to provide registration assistance for the NC Electronic Vendor Portal and NC IPS to several companies who have indicated that they will register their businesses for HUB certification in the near future. She said her observation of the training event showed it to be a success because of the way it involved local small business owners who were not previously involved in the process of tender.
âIt provided them with a clear example of how the tendering process at HCC and other surrounding state agencies works,â Barber said. âI am always delighted when participants are excited about what they have learned and see it as validation that they are receiving the value of our SBC training. I think you’ve noticed their enthusiasm as well.
Michelle G. Williams, independent notary signing agent and health and wellness coach, said the seminar was very informative and was the first time she had heard of IPS and HUB for the process. tender.
âI worked under contract for several companies, and I never knew about it,â Williams said. âIt was very valuable information. I can share it with other people I help.
Barber said the HCC SBC looks forward to confirming a HUB certification seminar in the near future.
âThe mission of our Small Business Center is to help our businesses and our community grow and prosper, so I think this seminar hit the mark,â she said. âIt’s always a good sign when our busy entrepreneurs stay after our event to discuss it further. This is our informal observation of the positive impact of the training!
For more information, call the Small Business Center at 252-536-7274.