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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 11 March 2009

PASCO, Wa. – The Department of Social and Health Services is holding a summit to teach minority businesses how to earn the agencies contracts.
Minority and women business owners can meet with Department's purchasing staff to learn about contracting with the agency at "Bridging the Gap," the 2009 Supplier Diversity Summit on March 30 in Pasco.
"It really is an opportunity for both minority and women-owned businesses, as well as other small businesses, to become familiar with DSHS purchasing agents and to learn about the state contracting process," said Executive Outreach Manager Terry Redmon of the DSHS Diversity Affairs Office.
The free-admission summit is scheduled Monday, March 30 from 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. in the Columbia Basin College Gjerde Center, 2600 North 20th Avenue, Pasco, Wa. To register, go to: http://www.dshs.wa.gov/dao/.
State laws prohibit awarding contracts on the basis of race, ethnicity, or gender. But agencies also are required to communicate bid opportunities to historically underused businesses, including those owned by women, African-Americans, Latinos, veterans, people with low incomes or in rural areas.
Agencies also are required by law to provide technical assistance to those historically underused businesses so that they can compete equally with other businesses for state contracts.
Summit participants will learn how to become certified by the state's Office of Minority and Women's Business Enterprises and the benefits of certification. OMWBE certification means that the company is a for-profit small business, properly licensed to conduct business in Washington, and is owned by an eligible person who controls the firm's operational and managerial activities. Those eligible include minority, female, or socially and economically disadvantaged owners.
In fiscal year 2006, DSHS spent $123 million in purchased services, of which two percent, or about $2.5 million, went to businesses certified by the minority enterprises office. Agencies are challenged to increase opportunities that result in an increase in the number of certified minority and women business owners contracting with the state. The Department of Social and Health Services has set a goal of 10 percent by 2011.

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