News Column

Chamber Task Force Focuses on Women, Diversity Businesses

Feb 1, 2013

Eleanor Kennedy

There are a plethora of resources available for small business owned by women and minorities.

The key is knowing where to look.

A new Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce task force, composed of women and minority business owners, is hoping to highlight resources for their peers.

Wednesday morning at Charley's restaurant, about 40 women and minority business owners gathered for the group's first workshop, which focused on available resources and selling to the commonwealth. The task force plans to hold workshops or events every quarter.

Marty Guidice, director of the Region 2000 Small Business Development Center, led things off Wednesday with a rundown of resources available in the Lynchburg area. He encouraged the entrepreneurs in attendance to check out online sources like the small business association website, sba.gov, and to take advantage of free one-on-one counseling offered by the center.

"It's not that each of us are experts on everything," Guidice said of the network of support available to new business owners. "But what we are knowledgeable about is where to find the answer."

The business owners also heard from Tammy Farmer, a business services manager for the Virginia Department of Business Assistance.

Farmer, an expert on eVA, the state's online procurement system, outlined the process for selling goods and services to the commonwealth.

The government is looking to buy everything from dog food to tooth brushes to all sorts of services, Farmer said, and regulations require many of those purchases come from certified small businesses.

In order to sell to the commonwealth, business owners need to make sure they are both registered in the online eVA system and certified as a small business, Farmer said. The Department of Business Assistance or the Virginia Department of Business Enterprise, which has a field office in Lynchburg off Lakeside Drive, can help.

If business owners also certify their business as woman- or minority-owned, Farmer added, it can build further business, as some state and federal money is designated for those types of businesses.

Even if you don't think your business has any goods or services the state would want, she said, you still should get it registered and certified. You never know what state agencies might be looking to buy.

"We spend over $9 billion a year in goods and services," Farmer said. "So you name it, we buy it."

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Distributed by MCT Information Services



Source: (c) 2013 The News & Advance (Lynchburg, Va.)


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