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Home | Special Feature | Bexar County Small Business & Entrepreneurship Department

Bexar County Small Business & Entrepreneurship Department

image Renee Watson, Bexar County Small Business & Entrepreneurship Department

EXTENDING THE REACH - The Bexar County Small Business & Entrepreneurship Department has been working with small, minority, and women-owned business enterprises (SMWBEs) through the SMWBE Program for 17 years. The program focuses on the formation, growth, and acceleration of SMWBEs, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE), and Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) through capacity-building programs, education & training, outreach, networking, and our annual SMWVBO Conference in December, which attracts over 3,500 people each year.

    The success of the SMWBE Program is dependent upon cooperation of 48 County offices and departments. It focuses on the purchasing, scope of work and data collection processes that are, of necessity, highly variable because the scope of items and purchasing authority by the County is so varied. All county projects have a 20% minimum for minority or women-owned business participation and a 30% minimum for small businesses.   
    The Contract & Diversity Management System (CDMS) is used to determine and report the County’s service and product acquisition activities. Included in the directory are certified SBE, MWBE, DBE and HUB businesses. The directory is user-friendly and is accessible to all county employees and contracted vendors. The system is also used for the solicitation of Request for Proposals (RFP), Invitation for Bids (IFB), and Request for Quotes (RFQ) that provides SMWBEs with the opportunity to participate and receive awards.
    CDMS is a best practices type of tool used to manage contract compliance in order to determine whether or not the SMWBE program is meeting its Mission. CDMS provides current process information for compliance tracking for constitution, supply, and service contracts, vendor certification, contract management along with audit and report capabilities.
    The Opportunity Link on our website is an initiative of the Bexar County SBE Department to address business development and small, minority and women-owned business participation in public procurement opportunities. Our website is designed to link businesses to opportunities, and our Opportunities page is a one-stop shop for contracting opportunities with a variety of government agencies. We link to almost 300 government and public agencies that contract with SMWBEs, DBEs, and HUBs including Bexar County projects, links to the City of San Antonio, connections to surrounding counties and municipalities, information on school districts, colleges, and universities, and state and federal entities. We even link to general contractors looking for subcontractors or partners! (URL: www.bexar.org/133/opportunities)
    The opportunity link is a one-stop shop for links to Bexar County and surrounding areas, but our brand-new “How Do I Do Business with Bexar County” page (url: www.bexar.org/businesswithbexar is going to be, current one is www.bexar.org/2377/connect-with-bexar-county) brings every opportunity in Bexar County to one place. We make it easy to register as a vendor, find requirements for doing business with the county, access our CivCast bid management system, find open and upcoming bid opportunities, and information on bridge & roadway projects.
    The Bexar County Small Business & Entrepreneurship Department’s mission is to link your business to opportunities for acceleration. SMWBExcel is designed to help small, minority, and women-owned businesses in the fields of Construction, Architecture & Engineering Professional services, Goods & Commodities, and other professional services grow, accelerate, and work with Bexar County and other public entities.
    The SMWBExcel program is designed in three phases - the Start Up Phase, the Growth Phase, and the Accelerate Phase, each with a different focus. SMWBExcel is designed to address problems identified by small, minority, and women-owned businesses and to provide them with tools to overcome obstacles to their success. Bexar County partners with incubators, accelerators, educational partners, and government organizations to provide a wide array of training, services, resources, information, and an expansive network of professionals.
    In partnership with the San Antonio Chapter of AGC, the program has had over 160 graduates since it started in 2007. The AGC/Bexar County “Basics” of Construction Training Program is designed to assist small business contractors in understanding the basic elements of running a commercial construction business. The sessions include elements of running a successful construction business, project scheduling, financial management and understanding contracts. Liens, estimating, project management, safety, business development, insurance and bonds were other important topics that were covered. The course material focuses on both technical and administrative skills, with a special emphasis on how to do business with Bexar County.
    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bonding Education Program (BEP) is a free program tailored to small businesses competing for construction-related contracts in the transportation industry. The program consists of a comprehensive set of sessions designed to provide small and disadvantaged businesses the tools and resources required to compete for transportation projects. The Bonding Education Program’s goals are to educate small contractors about industry challenges and to assist participants in their efforts to obtain surety bonds or increase their bonding capacity. Participants will interact with service providers and bond producers, and learn how to conduct business with local, state, and federal transportation agencies.
    The Mentor-Protégé Program is a two year commitment where the protégé, their mentors, AGC, and the County Mentor-Protégé Program Manager work together to help develop the protégé firm’s marketing, operations, and financial performance strategy. There are five current and nine graduates of the Mentor-Protégé Program. The program exists to build effective working relationships between leaders of mature established companies and locally-owned small companies so that newer companies can benefit from the knowledge and experience of established firms. The Bexar County Small Business & Entrepreneurship Department is dedicated to the growth of small, minority, and women-owned businesses in Bexar County. With the launch of our newly redesigned website and the SMWBExcel program, we are set to help even more small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed
    To learn more about the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Department, the SMWBE Program, SMWBExcel, or any other information and services we offer, visit us online at www.bexar.org/smwbe, in person at the Paul Elizondo Tower located at 101 W. Nueva St or call us at (210) 335-2478.

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Reesa Doebbler reesa@constructionnews.net