Chamber helps Businesses get Construction Contracts

construction1By Rhashad R. Pittman

Construction has been an economic anchor of the San Joaquin Valley for years, perhaps never more so than at the peak of the housing boom a decade ago. And that does not appear to be changing any time soon.

Future construction projects from hydraulic fracturing to the state’s high-speed rail system could provide general contractors and subcontractors in the region with lucrative contracts. To ensure local small businesses get a slice of the pie, the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is launching efforts to connect small business owners with public agencies and large companies planning to do work in the area.

The chamber has teamed up with the Builders’ Exchange of Stockton to put on a one-day conference later this month that will focus on the bidding process for construction contracts by public agencies and private businesses. Attendees will get an opportunity to learn how to effectively pursue the contracts from the very agencies and companies that will offer them.

The Construction Procurement Expo will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26 at the Hilton Stockton hotel. The event is free and open to the public.

“We’re facilitating an opportunity to bring big business to meet small business under one roof,” said Jim Molina, a member of the chamber’s board of directors and chair of its procurement committee. “It’s a way to stimulate the economy and to help small businesses survive.”

The expo will involve informational workshops, a panel discussion, and a networking session with officials from Caltrans, the California High-Speed Rail Authority, and the California Department of General Services. The event is sponsored by the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), State Farm Insurance, and Covered California, the state’s private health insurance exchange.

General contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, skilled trade workers, and other small and disadvantaged business owners in the industry who attend will learn about upcoming construction projects in the Central Valley. They will also meet officials directly involved in commercial development and public infrastructure projects taking place in the region, said Brenna Butler Garcia, CEO of the chamber.

“Learning how to work with these agencies directly, or even building relationships for supplemental services to suppliers, can be so beneficial for our members,” Butler Garcia said. “Procurement is a critical aspect to diversifying business opportunities and generating revenue for many local small business owners.”

During the expo, agency and company representatives will participate in a panel discussion titled “Understanding Procurement Opportunities: How to Bid and Win Contracts.” During the talk, panelists will cover the importance of certification, competitive requirements, advocacy efforts, and civic and social engagement in getting contracts. There will also be workshops on marketing, insurance, and healthcare for small businesses, as well as one on hydraulic fracturing.

The conference will include a wine reception where attendees will be able to shake hands with agency officials from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which will oversee the building of the state’s high-speed rail system, the California Department of General Services, and Caltrans, the state agency in charge of planning and building the state’s highways and bridges.

Representatives from the WSPA and State Farm will also be on hand to talk about upcoming construction projects for their organizations and businesses. Getting involved early in the planning process is essential for small businesses seeking contracts, said Butler Garcia, who has experience in the construction industry.

“It’s a really a great opportunity to know who they will be doing business with,” she said.

In San Joaquin County, the construction industry employs 7,300 individuals, while related sectors such as manufacturing employ more than 67,000 more workers in the county, according to a report based on census data by the San Joaquin Partnership, a private nonprofit economic development corporation.

Noting that the county’s entire work force is roughly 300,000, Butler Garcia said construction projects will play a critical role in the region’s economic recovery.

“The construction industry truly is the heart of the Central Valley,” Butler Garcia said.  “Many of our members in all areas of industry are impacted by the construction trade in Central California.”

For more information about the Construction Procurement Expo, or to register for the event, contact the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at (209) 943-6117. 

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