The Macon-Bibb County Office of Small Business Affairs opened in April 2014 as a way to provide more resources to small businesses and companies owned by minorities, women and other disadvantaged groups.
James Bumpus serves as director of the department and is the only employee of the office that collaborates with various Macon-Bibb departments and other agencies to help small businesses apply for contracts. The department provides an array of services ranging from technical assistance to outreach and education.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Bumpus acknowledged some successes and challenges, and he said the office is still developing benchmarks to measure the department’s goals.
Q: How do you connect with business owners who aren’t aware of what your office offers?
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A: We’re involved in an aggressive outreach campaign that includes hosting vendor fairs and reverse vendor fairs, as well as participating in local, regional and state vendor fairs to make businesses aware that Macon-Bibb is small-business friendly. We encourage the participation of disadvantaged business enterprises, minority and women in our procurement. We’re leveling the playing field and making sure there is an equitable opportunity for small business owners to be awarded contracts.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge your department deals with?
A: One of the largest barriers in terms of small-business participation in government procurement is the deficiencies in administration of some of the businesses. One of the ways we’re addressing that barrier this fall is by rolling out a Macon-Bibb County contractors academy, which will focus on business administration. It’s for any local small-business owner.
Q: How do you keep track of how local small businesses are performing?
A: We are tracking the businesses that are being awarded contracts. From Jan. 1 to June 30, 60 percent of (Macon-Bibb government competitive bids) went to local businesses, and 31 percent of that went to disadvantaged business, which are both very significant. What we saw is $12 million being spent in those purchases (for all companies), and about 32 percent ($4 million) was spent with minority businesses.
Q: How would you describe the first 15 months, and what are the goals moving forward?
A: We’re still in the process of setting benchmarks. We’re in the process of redefining the definition of small, local businesses in the Macon-Bibb County context. I would say the work we’ve done so far has been effective, and we look forward to continuing working with small-business owners and helping them build capacity and become competitive.
Our hope is that the opportunities with Macon-Bibb County government will be a springboard for greater opportunities in the private sector. The idea is to be a catalyst for accelerating economic activity in our county with the ultimate intention of job creation.
To learn more about the Macon-Bibb County Office of Small Business Affairs call 478-803-0550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623 or find him on Twitter@stan_telegraph.