Contracting Opportunities and Career Seeker Resources Were Focus of September's Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Forum
September 23, 2021
September’s Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Forum shared a lot of great information for community members regarding business certification and contracting opportunities for small businesses in the BIPOC community. Afterwards we heard from DEED's Office of Economic Opportunities on the Minnesota Main Street Relief Grant and CareerForce on services available to career seekers.
Small Business Certification and Contracting Opportunities
Aaron Anderson from the Office of Equity in Procurement at the Minnesota Department of Administration first spoke on procurement with the State of Minnesota. Procurement relates to public sector purchasing and the State of Minnesota is committed to diversity and inclusion in its public procurement process. Their office operates the Small Business Procurement Program for Targeted Groups, Economically Disadvantaged and Veteran-Owned small businesses. If your business qualifies and is certified for the program, you can receive certain advantages such as a preference score over other vendors when bidding for contracts with the State. Your company is also listed in the State’s directory of certified vendors upon certification.
Next, we heard from Shaun McClary with the Small Business Administration (SBA) on federal contracting certifications that have a similar model at the state level. The federal government can set aside a contract so that only certain types of certified small businesses can bid on that project. Some of the contracting programs they have for certified small businesses include:
• 8(a) Business Development Program helps provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities.
• HUBZone Program allows federal contract set-aside contracts for small businesses in economically depressed communities.
• Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program (WOSB) allows set-aside contracts for women-owned small businesses in industries where women-owned firms are underrepresented.
You can check out the SBA website to learn more about all of their small business programs.
Next, Christina Nebel-Dickerson from Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) at the Minnesota Department of Administration gave an overview of their office. PTAC assists Minnesota businesses understand government procurement process and rules so they can better compete for and win government contracts. They offer free counseling service, training, certification assistance and much more for small businesses.
Minnesota Main Street COVID Relief Grants
Maureen Ramirez from DEED’s Office of Economic Opportunities highlighted the Minnesota Main Street COVID Relief Grants. Small businesses in Minnesota that experienced financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for a grant amount between $10,000 and $25,000 based on the number of full-time staff. Businesses that are majority-owned by military veterans, women, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color individuals; employ 6 people or fewer; and/or did not receive previous assistance from other state relief programs will be prioritized in the selection process. The application portal will open September 20, 2021 and will accept applications for 10 days after opening. Afterward, grant applications will be selected for consideration through a computer-generated, randomized selection process.
Informational sessions were recently held to go over any questions on the application process. You can find those webinar recordings on DEED's YouTube channel.
CareerForce Services Available to Career Seekers
With the recent expiration of several enhanced unemployment insurance benefits, Mike Lang from CareerForce gave an overview of how their offices can help people find a job or new career path at no cost to career seekers. CareerForce is Minnesota’s workforce system which consists of 50 locations across the state. Not all locations are currently open for in-person support, but all of them are providing online or phone support to career seekers. Expert staff can guide job career seekers through all steps of job search and career planning. They offer many programs and services such as the Dislocated Worker Program, Veteran Services Program, Youth Programs and many more. You can find job search appointments near you at careerforcemn.com/events where you can register to reserve a time to meet with staff either in-person, over the phone or online. Career seekers can also find a list of upcoming online career fairs with employers looking to hire for a wide variety of high-paying jobs.
If you missed this month’s forum you can watch our discussion on DEED’s YouTube channel.
At October’s Forum, we will focus on the Outreach and Community Engagement Initiative by the Minnesota Department of Revenue, available resources at the Minnesota Department of Education and down payment assistance with Minnesota Housing.