By Mrinal Gokhale
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) hosted an event to educate small business owners on federal contracting.
Almost 100 people attended the event last Friday at Manpower from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
SBA is a federal agency that strives to help small businesses start and grow. The organization offers federal contracting opportunities, programs and certifications for women-owned small businesses (WOSB), small disadvantaged businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and businesses located in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZone).
“Ninety-eight percent of state businesses are small businesses based on either revenue or number of employees,” explained Eric Ness, state director of the SBA.
“Learning about HUD’s section three is important. Plus, we also need more small businesses to certify under WOSB and HUBZone, which we hope to promote.”
The three main aspects covered in the panels include: an overview of the SBA’s programs, HUD’s Section Three housing requirements and the benefits of government funding.
Antonio Riley, regional administrator of HUD spoke about Section Rhree and how it benefits low-income areas.
“Section three helps low income individuals get jobs in housing construction by providing federal contracting opportunities for construction companies,” he said. “We hope to create 1,400 jobs through section three by summer.”
Jim Galliard, one of the panelists, is an African-American male who feels Wisconsin lacks jobs for minority and small business owners.
After becoming co-founder of Pyramid Electric in 2006, he has hired 52 people and currently employs 12 workers.
He is most proud of training workers and watching them either go into business for themselves or pursue other job opportunities in the field.
“The company is called ‘Pyramid’ because it has a base with skilled workers training,” he said.
“I am concerned about the unemployment rate of black males in Wisconsin, and without Section Three and the SBA, we wouldn’t be able to offer employment opportunities.”
Galliard admitted to the panel that he has experienced some disadvantages.
“For example, the contractor made us buy all the parts for one project,” he noted.
Still, he advocates for Section Three and federal contracts.
Galliard spoke alongside Troy Reese of T.I. Corporation, who gets most of his business through the City of Milwaukee.
Reese discussed the criteria of Section Three and is proud that his company survived downtime in the industry.
“Many small businesses lose a lot of money when forming a joint partnership, so the SBA steps in,” he said.
“Your employees must make a low-income and you must have a diverse workforce for Section Three criteria.”