For the third time this year, the City of West Palm Beach is inviting small business owners, including minorities, women, and service-disabled veterans to learn more about how they could potentially benefit from the city’s 1 percent sales tax increase.
Frank Hayden, the City’s Director of Procurement, is hosting a free workshop from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, September 7, 2017 at Armory Arts Center, 811 Park Place, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.
He will explain updated programs created to encourage more engagement among small-, minority-owned, female-owned and service-disabled veteran businesses and the city’s streamlined processes for businesses to get certified.
Hayden will be joined by other city representatives who will outline the City’s funding sources for new contracts, share opportunities with the City’s upcoming construction and refurbishment projects, and provide details on how the City works with the South Florida Water Management District, School District and other county procurement departments. Guests can talk to City representatives one-on-one, following their presentations.
“The City has its funding in place, including funds generated from the 1 percent county sales tax, and projects ready for bid,” Hayden said. “We are excited to share the most recent details of our upcoming projects. We’ve been welcoming audiences from across the county to our free workshops in January and June. We want to welcome everyone who couldn’t attend the other events, and new business owners who are interested in working with us.”
The new programs within his Procurement Department have been designed to increase the number of small businesses, women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses certified to bid on new contracts and to increase the amount of contract work awarded to these businesses. The results of a recent Disparity Study have increased the need for greater inclusion among women-owned and minority-owned businesses on certain types of work available from the City.
In 2016, the Procurement Department introduced new programs to help small business enterprises be more competitive in the City’s bid process. They include the Sheltered Market Program, bid equalization, the elimination of the Good Faith effort and new small business thresholds. Hayden has set a goal to increase the number of small businesses certified by the City by 5 percent annually and to increase the number of dollars spent with certified businesses by 5 percent annually, as well.
“Our first goal is to grow the City’s database of qualified small businesses certified to work with West Palm Beach with an emphasis on engaging more women-owned, minority-owned and small- business enterprises. We’ve streamlined the paperwork to make it simpler and less time-intensive,” Hayden said. “Once certified, business owners are strongly urged to contact my department to learn how the Sheltered Market, bid equalization and small business thresholds work for them.”
For example, the Sheltered Market program is created for only certified small business enterprises (SBEs) to be able to bid on contract opportunities valued at $500,000 or less. The ‘shelter’ allows SBEs to compete against each other instead of larger enterprises.
Bid equalization enables certified SBEs to compete with non-certified SBEs. If a bid by a certified SBE is within 10 percent of a bid by a non-certified SBE, the City can make the award to the certified SBE, even though its bid could be up to 10 percent higher, Hayden said. The City has also eliminated the Good Faith Effort, which created a loophole for larger enterprises to avoid awarding a percentage of their subcontract work to SBEs.
To assist small business owners through the process of becoming certified, the City is working with Paragon (www.paragonfl.org), which provides hands-on help with completing required paperwork and education on how to properly submit a bid.
The City of West Palm Beach Procurement Department offers opportunities for all suppliers, including small businesses. It values business relationships and strive to promote fair and equitable treatment of all suppliers. To learn more about its procurement opportunities in the area of goods and services, construction and professional services, visit www.wpb.org/procurement or call 561-822-2100.