Chatham Business Association and South Shore Chamber Collaborate to Certify Minority Businesses
Lee Edwards | 11/20/2014, 12:49 p.m.
In an effort to assist businesses owned and operated by minorities business enterprises (MBE), women business enterprises (WBE), and disabled individual business enterprises (DBE), the Chatham Business Association (CBA) and the South Shore Chamber, Inc. (SSCI) joined forces hosting a free MBE,WBE and DBE certification workshop on Nov. 5, at the SSCI’s office, 1750 E. 71st.
The workshop was a part of a series of workshops sponsored by the City of Chicago’s Department of Procurement Services (DPS). Previous workshops were held throughout the month of October with a total of 36 businesses participating. SSCI and CBA sent e-blasts to local businesses and relied on word-of-mouth and social media to advertise the sessions.
The City of Chicago defines MBE/WBE/DBE's as small local business enterprise with is at least 51% owned by one or more economically disadvantaged minority persons, or, in the case of a publicly held corporation, at least 51% of all classes of the stock of which is owned by one or more economically disadvantaged minority persons, whose management, policies, more decisions and daily business operations are independently managed and controlled by one or more economically disadvantaged minority persons.
The City of Chicago’s Director of Public Affairs, Cathy Kwiatkowski, stated in a conversation with the Chicago Citizen Newspaper that one of the key objectives of the City was to increase the diversity pool of businesses that bid on City contracts. To ensure that businesses are truly M/W/DBEs, Kwiatkowski said that field analysts are deployed to conduct field tests that monitor, verify, and document compliance with MBE/WBE/DBE, City residency, local hiring, and EEO requirements.
“The purpose of this program is to increase the MBE pool so we can increase the participation in the public and private sector,” said Melinda Kelly, executive director, Chatham Business Association. “One of the biggest components of that is making sure that businesses successfully get MBE certified. When you are certified it is a marketing tool that allows you to leverage that certification to bigger businesses that are vying to do bigger deals.”
Teyonda Wetz, executive director, SSCI, stated, “We collaborated so we can identify contracts and vendors who participate in the process of seeking city services,” said Wertz. “There are large resting procurement opportunities that no one ever applies for and if they’re certified they have a better ability to access them.
During the workshop, Wertz and Kelly explained step-by-step to business owners, how to fill out the City of Chicago’s Affidavit/Certification packet. The duo described the certification packet as “challenging” and expressed how attention to detail when filling out the forms is imperative.
According to Kwiatkowski, as of Jan. 2013, once certified with the City of Chicago, Cook County will then also recognize a business's MBE/WBE/DBE certification which eliminates the need to file two separate applications.
For more information visit http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dps.html.