For small business owners in San Antonio, not only is the local economic landscape better than most major cities in the U.S., but the opportunity to compete with larger companies just got a lot better.
In a historic move, the City Council recently voted unanimously to increase the size of city construction contracts that small businesses can be eligible for from $1.5 million to almost $10 million.
This momentous change should spark more collaboration and joint ventures among companies because the dollars are large enough to share.
It will also spur small construction companies that are not currently registered with the city’s Central Vendor Registry to register and compete in city projects. Ultimately, we will have a higher caliber of firms competing and creating partnerships that have not been seen before. I expect it will enable businesses like Davila Construction, Straight Line Management, Queen Bee Construction and Tejas Premier Building Contractors to compete and win on sizeable projects in San Antonio.
Previously the Small Business Economic Development Advocacy (SBEDA) Ordinance had given “preference points” to eligible small businesses to be considered as prime contractors on construction contracts budgeted for less than $1.5 million.
The Council’s decision removes what had been an unnecessary hindrance for many employers. For instance, from August 2011 to mid-May 2012, San Antonio spent $24.3 million on construction contracts. Of that total, minority and women-owned businesses had received only $4.7 million, or 19 percent – which is far short of the city’s stated goal of 29 percent.
Yet, during the last three years, small businesses had demonstrated an ability to attain bonding and perform as prime contractors on projects of much larger value, and on various multimillion-dollar contracts simultaneously.
The recent change helps level the playing field to make it possible for additional small businesses and unknown small businesses to compete for meaningful work.
The change was an acknowledgment of the facts on the ground reported by various facets of our community, including the city’s Five-Year Contracting Diversity Committee, which is charged to identify ways to increase the number of minority and woman-owned firms in the city’s Central Vendor Registry; the Small Business Advocacy Committee, a Council-appointed citizens group charged with review of the SBEDA Ordinance; the Alamo City Chamber of Commerce; Neighborhoods First Alliance; the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; and the Hispanic Contractors Association De San Antonio.
The end result will be stronger employers and an expanding San Antonio workforce. Jane Gonzalez, owner of the Eastside-based MedWheels Inc., said, “This is a tremendous victory for San Antonio … and it will allow employing employees from our own neighborhoods.”
This is a victory for local businesses because they have long been ready, willing and able to be the city’s future leaders.
*Featured/top image: Christopher C. Herring addresses the audience gathered at St. Philip’s College for a chamber welcome reception for Mayor Ivy Taylor. Photo courtesy of Melendrez Entertainment.