Liberty County NAACP members, government leaders, professional advisors and expert presenters came together during the NAACP Community Meeting on Feb. 24. The event was held at Trinity Baptist Temple in Hinesville to provide information to African-American and women entrepreneurs about how to participate in bidding and procurement contracts with local and state government.
The event included three icebreakers, three panel presentations and a vendor fair.
The first panel included representatives from Liberty County, City of Hinesville, Liberty County School System and Liberty County Development Authority. Each panelist discussed its Minority Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) and Disenfranchised Business Enterprise (DBE) policies and protocol.
"We are sensitive to the barriers for minorities and want to do what it takes to help them participate in the procurement process," said Franklin Perry, LCSS Interim Superintendent.
Although the opportunities have been offered as early as 2008, the panelists expressed difficulty getting participation from minorities and stressed the need for business owners to become certified so they can apply for projects.
The panel suggested minority and women owned businesses contact them for workshops to understand the process, check the Coastal Courier for RFPs and introduce themselves to key decision makers so administrators become aware of the services the businesses offer.
Reginald Pierce, Sr., Liberty County Coroner and General Manager of the Dorchester Funeral Home, added that the most important thing for businesses to do is getting everything done in decency and order.
"Make sure your business is in order," Pierce said. "That means come dressed for success ready to pitch your business and make sure you leave behind professional contact information. Business owners like myself are ready to collaborate and partner with you but that’s only if you come with a plan."
The next panel included professionals from Ameris Bank, Georgia Department of Transportation, Martin Law Group and Small Business Assistance Corporation. This group informed attendees of the availability of small business financing programs, financial planning and legal counsel.
A key theme from this group was that individuals must take the time to become certified and learn the process so they can qualify for funding and be eligible to participate in the programs. Each panelist provided contact information so attendees could reach out to them for free programs.
The final panel consisted of local experts Sabrina Newby, President of the Liberty County Minority Chamber and DeLisa Clift, COO of Strategic Biz Solutions. As minority women business owners, the two talked about the services their organizations provide to minority and women-owned businesses. Opportunities include marketing and funding from LCMC and HR support and MWBE certification from Strategic Biz Solutions.
"This event is a continuation of the Liberty County NAACP’s effort at being an avenue to influence change with respect to the way contracts are allocated in Liberty County by tax-payer funded entities. Specifically, in the inclusion of African-American and women Entrepreneurs in the contract bidding and procurement processes within our county’s expanding financial and economic sectors," said Graylan Quarterman, Liberty County NAACP President.