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In March, Councilmember Mitchell Englander – the strongest pro-business voice on the Los Angeles City Council – hosted his quarterly Northwest Valley Business Roundtable that focused on City contracting opportunities for San Fernando Valley businesses.

At the event, Merriwether and Williams presented lots of information and education about the Bond Assistance Program (BAP), and how local, small and minority-owned businesses can receive technical and administrative assistance to help them successfully bid and compete for City contracts.

But that’s not all. The L.A. Department of Public Works, LA Department of Water and Power, Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports and LAUSD gave presentations on upcoming City contracting opportunities related to major construction projects.

The event also included a question-and-answer session with representatives from Councilmember Englander’s office, the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development, and participating City Departments.

All who came agree that this was an invaluable way to network, get educated, and gain a deeper understanding of how local businesses can thrive.

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The  Northern California Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors (NAMC –NC) was revitalized in the spring of this year — with ­  MWIS President and CEO Ingrid Merriwether at the helm.

As President, Ingrid encourages all contractors and agencies interested in expanding the pool of capable, informed contractors to join in NAMC’s mission. “This revitalized chapter gives us a vehicle through which we can help identify and develop the minority contracting community in Northern California,” she says.

Since the April 23rd Kick-Off Dinner at the Claremont Hotel, the Chapter has been going ahead full force. They’ve sponsored two outreach events, a training event and engaged in public policy discussions related to small business development at the Oakland Army Base and within the City of Oakland.

This has sparked a flood of interest by contractors and potential sponsors, with many new members breathing new life and enthusiasm into the organization.

The group is focused on education and empowerment. A perfect example is the NAMC co-sponsored free workshop with the Doyle Drive Replacement Project, “Increasing Your Competitive Edge: Creating an Effective “Line Card” that took place in June. Designed to help DBE/UDBE/SBE/DVBE companies, the workshop offered advice for communicating key information in the first few minutes of meeting prime contractors; helped participants develop “line cards” to convey  the most important aspects of their businesses; and taught key marketing concepts.

Each participant met one-on-one with a business development specialist from the Doyle Drive Project prime contracts as well as prime contractors from the Caltrans Calmentor and Mentor/Protégé Programs.  After meeting with the primes, the participants were able to work with graphic designers (on-site) who helped them produce their actual “Line Cards”.

NAMC plans to focus on similar events in the future. For more information about NAMC, visit the Chapter’s website at www.namcnc.org.

Think of it as the Academy Awards for our industry: The 2011 California Construction Expo, known as CalConExpo, is the premier event for contractors, designers, construction professionals, suppliers, and construction workers. On August 11, approximately 1,500 people gathered together to learn, connect, and grow.

CalConExpo 2011 provided a full day for participants to generate new business relationships, take workshops to explore innovation and best practices, and experience new tools and equipment. One of the highlights? Our very own Paulette Williams spoke on a workshop panel, “Quick Start to Public Works,” alongside Mark Hovatter (Procurement, LAUSD) and James Reed (Center for Contract Compliance).

There was something for everyone: General Contractors and specialty trade contractors had unique access to upcoming contract information and contracting officials. Expo Exhibitors exposed their product and/or services to a universe of interested clients. Sponsors demonstrated their corporate stature alongside its hosts — The Associated General Contractors-California, Los Angeles World Airports, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Metropolitan Water District, the Department of General Services, and the Port of Long Beach, in addition to a statewide consortium of public agencies.

This year, the conference hosted a unique event: a Pre- Expo Workshop called Meet the Design-Build Primes. Unlike past CalCon matchmaking events, the Meet the Design-Build Primes took place the day prior to CalCon Expo. The cost for the event was only $35, and attendees also received a free Limited Access Pass into CalCon Expo the following day. Those in attendance had the opportunity to meet with four Large General Construction and/or Design Firms, based on priority. Unlike traditional matchmaking, where a person only has one to two minutes to speak, attendees had ample time to meet with the Large General Construction and/or Design Firms of their choice.

The response to the event, which attracted over 100 people, was an overwhelming success —  so much that registration was cut off because so many people wanted to attend.

At the popular event, eleven Large General Construction and Design Firms shared their plans for bidding and learned what subcontractors and designers can bring to their team. The Large General Contractors and Design Firms who participated were: AECOM, Clark Construction, Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Kiewit Infrastructure Group, Manson Construction, McCarthy Building Company, Parsons Brinkerhoff, Sully-Miller Contracting Co., Turner Construction, Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc., and Walsh-Austin Joint Venture.

The response to the event was overwhelmingly positive! CalCon Construction Expo is looking forward to having this event again next year, hopefully with even more people able to benefit from this unique networking and learning opportunity.

Thanks to all who made this important day a success for our industry.

Ingrid Merriwether accepting 100 Black Men of the Bay AwardIn June, over 100 people gathered at the San Francisco City Club to honor President and CEO Ingrid Merriwether with the 2011 Women of Color Achievement Award. The award, sponsored by the 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, Inc. and Women Presidents’ Organization, recognized Ingrid’s impressive record of success as a distinguished business leader and community visionary.

More accolades came our way this summer. Out of over 2,000 nominations, MWIS was selected for the Inner City 100 List, which was published in the May issue of FortuneIngrid Merriwether accepting ICIC award. CEO and President Ingrid Merriwether was acknowledged for this achievement at the Inner City Advisors Brunch in Oakland. In May, our COO Rick Williams accepted the award at a Gala Awards Dinner in Boston, with more than 600 people in attendance.

The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and Fortune Magazine partnered together to create the Inner City 100 List, which spotlight and support growing companies in urban areas; highlight the importance of a healthy economy in developing healthy urban communities; explore how the advantages of inner cities, such as a diverse workforce and strategic location, can combine to create explosive growth; and change perceptions about inner city business.

Congratulations to our hard-working team for making a huge impact on communities and lives. We’re proud to get acknowledgement for our efforts in business and the community.

A subcontractor of Skanska USA Civil Northeast — considered one of the country’s top 10 contractors — is under federal indictment  for evading government contract requirements that they hire a certain percentage of minority, disabled, or women-owned contractors, according to a recent report in The New York Times.

While Skanska and other companies paid the subcontractor tens of millions of dollars, they had no employees or equipment and did no work, according to the indictment, which said the subcontractor was hired to do concrete work, demolition, air testing, soil sampling and hazardous-gas monitoring. The actual work was performed either by the general contractor or third-party companies.

When we hear news like this, it makes us proud of our programs and our involvement in National Association of Minority Contractors. What we do here actually builds capacity so that real companies can get involved in major construction, as opposed paying people off so they can benefit instead of the entire community.

Read the full article here.