BY SERGIE WILLOUGHBY
This month, the New York City Department of Design and Construction?s Office of Diversity and Industry Relations announced the launch of a free business development program, ?Ready to Build New York City,? designed for small and emerging construction contractors interested in public sector construction contracts.
?One of the pieces of feedback I get when I meet with firms that do business with us is that they don?t know how our agency works. That always trips them up. So, we decided we needed to do a program that will teach them about the agency,? Maggaline Austin, Chief Diversity and Industry Relations Officer, told TNJ.com in an exclusive interview.
And the goal, says Austin, is to get them to win a bid. ?Over the last year, we?ve been hosting monthly development workshops where we talk about a different topic. ?Ready to Build New York City,? is a 9-month curriculum where every month builds on what they learned the previous month,” she shares.
Austin says the agency is moving towards procurement via a list of pre-qualified bidders, so participants will learn first-hand how to navigate through the pre-qualification (PQL) process. ?In this program, we are going step-by-step to explain how to get pre-qualified to do business with us. In addition, we will talk about identifying the right projects for their businesses. And if they bid and do get a project, how do they mobilize to start that process? How do they control costs? How do they get paid? Believe it or not, a lot of small businesses complain to us that they don?t know how to get paid,? she explains.
According to Austin, the PQL process is similar to being pre-qualified for a mortgage. ?We send out what?s called a request for qualification. People respond to it. From the group of responders, we use the rules of the Procurement Policy Board to pre-qualify people so that when we do have a Procurement, instead of procuring from the beginning, we go to that list of people who have been pre-qualified,? she says.
With workshops led by leading industry experts and senior staff, the program will also offer a review of project management best practices, as well as change orders.
?We are very excited for the launch of Ready to Build NYC. Our overall mission for this program is to help small and emerging firms grow by enhancing their business capacity through education and technical assistance. Through all of the scheduled workshops, contractors will receive professional development and they will have the opportunity to build successful relationships within the industry,? said Dr. Feniosky Pe?a-Mora, Commissioner of NYC Department of Design and Construction.
Last week?s first workshop ?Are You Ready,? was led by Renee Sacks, President and CEO of Sacks Communications, and the workshop leaders were Walter Maxwell, Executive Director for External Affairs Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity from the NYC Department of Small Business Service, Elizabeth Velez, President of the Velez Organization and Sandra Wilkin, President Bradford Construction Corporation. All of the participants were given a self-assessment survey, as well as a comprehensive review of certification requirements, profile updates and best practices for managing certification and pre-qualification requirements.
Upcoming workshops include Request for Qualifications Parts 1 and 2; Finding the Right Project; Estimate Accurately; and Preparing to Bid, among others.
DDC?s Office of Diversity and Industry Relations offers a range of programs to expand MWBE participation including Monthly Business Development Workshops, Open Houses and a Construction Mentorship Program. These programs introduce small and emerging firms to the agency?s processes and ensure participants are aware of all available procurement opportunities. DDC has also implemented industry related programs, which are designed to strengthen our relationship with our industry partners, including the establishment of an External Advisory Board and the Commissioner?s Industry Leaders? Roundtable as well as ?meet and greets? with industry representatives.