Attaining an MBA or an advanced degree in a STEM — science, technology, engineering or mathmatics —  specialty is a solid foundation into entrepreneurship. No need to go it alone, though. Resources abound for the enterprising individual who pursues state and local government and corporate clients. We sat down with industry giant Rholanda Malveaux Stanberry, contract compliance administrator, Fulton County Government (Georgia) — the largest county in the southeastern United States. What organizations do you recommend to provide guidance in pursuing corporate and government contracts?Organizations I would recommend would be:

  • SBA – Small Business Administration
  • MBDA – Minority Business Development Agency
  • GMSDC – Georgia Minority Supplier Development Council
  • ABL – Atlanta Business League
  • NAMC – National Association of Minority Contractors
  • GABCA – Georgia Association of Black Constructors
  • GWBC – Greater Women’s Business Council
  • AMBCC – Atlanta Metropolitan Black Chamber of Commerce

These organizations have relationships or partnerships with corporate and government agencies. Frequently, they host forums where corporate and government representatives offer presentations before the organization’s members to explain their respective procurement processes. This can be rather insightful and can offer that one nugget of knowledge that determines the winning proposal and the losing one. Before choosing an organization to join, what questions should a potential member pose? The first question should be is there a fee associated with membership, what are the benefits of becoming a member, and are there any reciprocity arrangements with any other organizations. The final one is critical because different organizations have various resources and if they share, well — the more valuable the membership. Is it possible to be certified as a minority business without joining a WBENC? Yes, it’s possible to be certified as a minority business without joining an organization like WBENC. A number of those organizations have a fee associated with membership. Many government agencies, like Fulton County, have Minority Female Business Enterprise (MFBE) certification programs that are free. We also offer free instructor-led classes at county offices. The Department of Purchasing & Contract Compliance offers a plethora of training classes monthly including Vendor Orientation, How to Respond to an RFP, Vendor Online Bidding and a cluster of classes all related to insurance and bonding. We are very serious about providing access to training to any vendor or potential vendor who wants to do business with us. Fulton County has a “Memorandum of Understanding” with WBENC which enables their members to become certified with us without going through the typical certification process. If a female-owned business is certified with WBENC, their certification is accepted by the county through a streamlined application process. This partnership came about as a result of former Commissioner Nancy Boxhill’s Gender Equity Initiative. Are you seeing more diversity in the area of race and gender regarding who is pursuing these large-scale contracts? Yes, we are seeing more race diversity in regards to hard bids and RFP responses concerning large scale contracts, particularly in the areas of construction and architect and engineers. Usually, minority firms participate as joint venture partners or subcontractors. However, we are seeing more minority firms bidding as prime contractors. Have new immigration verification stipulations been a hindrance industry-wide as it recently was with the RFPs for Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport? We have not had any issues related to the new immigration verification stipulations. All information and requirements related to the Georgia Security and Immigration Act are explicitly detailed in all of our formal solicitation documents as well as explained in all pre-bid, pre-proposal conferences.

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