Talking business, tips and tools for women and minorities

By Jeni Alo

Approximately 25 small business owners attended the “Doing Business with the State of New Jersey” workshop held by the N.J. Office of Supplier Diversity and the Division of Minority Women Business Development at the College on Friday April 16 to learn about the small, women and minority business registration and certification process.

Ahsaki Tamara McCall, diversity officer, began the workshop with a PowerPoint presentation that informed the attendees of the procedure of state contracting, the bidding process and the many programs the Office of Supplier Diversity offers.

One resource that was mentioned is New Jersey Selective Assistance Vendor Information (NJSAVI), a database open to the public that can be used by small business owners to create awareness of their business.

“Believe me, large companies go on here to find small business companies like yours,” McCall said to the attendees.

McCall also mentioned Small Business Resource, the quarterly newspaper that is published to help small business owners, which was given to the attendees free of charge. The rest of McCall’s portion of the workshop mostly consisted of the Request for Proposal components that small business owners must go through. This process was described as lengthy, taking anywhere from 30 to 60 days to be completed, according to McCall.

“Sit down with someone at the Small Business Center and make sure you have all of your documents in order. If something goes wrong, they will reject your bill automatically,” McCall said.

Nina Moseley, senior director of the Department of the Treasury, began the second part of the workshop by explaining a new online service that notifies small, minority and women business owners to reapply for registrations and certifications prior to expiration, as well as accommodating fair competition.

“We want similar companies to compete against each other. That wasn’t happening in the past,” Moseley said.

Ramirez also explained the online Diversity Registry that gives business owners the opportunity to market their businesses to the 109 agencies within the state.

“This is where you want to captivate buyers and other vendors,” Ramirez said.

Many attendees found the information very helpful and had many of their questions answered personally. If they needed extra help, Elvis Ramirez, a technical officer with the division, was available after the workshop to assist them.

“I’m a small business owner. This workshop gives you more information on how to bid and find more opportunities. These people give you insight,” Lata Kirpalani, a certified public accountant who owns her own practice in Metuchen, N.J., said.

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