Local Small Businesses Learn How to Compete With the Big Boys
by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND--Learning the tools they need to compete with the big boys. That's what small business owners got a chance to do on Tuesday in Midland.

Supported by Governor Rick Perry, it's a statewide forum series benefiting all of the Permian Basin.

The City of Midland was one of the cities to be chosen by Governor Perry's office to host this stop of the Small Business Forum.

The Midland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is extremely proud of the fact they were picked to do something they do on a regular basis, anyway.

"That's something we pride ourselves in, we help out the small businesses. When the governor's office recognizes that, it's a great honor for us," Rachel Stone, with the Midland Hispanic Chamber, said.

The Governor's Small Business Forum started taking shape soon after the Midland Hispanic Chamber found out they were to be the host organization back in March.  Since then, it's been all work and very little play.

"From picking out the venue, making sure we had vendors out here, making sure the small businesses knew what we were doing and trying to do. The main purpose is to have the small businesses know that there is job opportunities for them with large corporations, with state and federal agencies," Stone explained.

Organizations from Midland and Odessa as well as the colleges and UTPB and the Texas Workforce Commission want local small business owners to know there's money in their own backyard.

According to Stone, "A lot of people think, what does my business have to do with the college?  If you really sit down and look at it, they order supplies.  They order janitorial supplies, pens, pencils, promotional items."

One of the topics discussed is procurement.  Certain companies, including state and federal entities have a certain part of their budget set aside to do business with small businesses that are either woman or minority owned. Many don't know enough about the process and miss out on those business opportunities.

"One thing we bring to the table, we educate them that it's actually a relationship development.  It's a process.  It takes time.  When you build your relationship, when they see your face several times, the opportunity will come, hopefully sooner than later," Enrique Romero, Director of the Small Business Development Center at UTPB, said.

Stone added, another benefit to getting those local contracts, it keeps that money right here at home, "People that are certified in Dallas and Austin are coming in and bidding on these jobs and taking the money back with them.  We want the money to stay here in the Basin."