ENCINITAS — More than 100 small business owners, chamber executives and business leaders learned how to compete for local government contracts at MiraCosta College’s San Elijo Campus at a forum co-hosted by San Diego County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price and the Small Business Development Center on Feb. 25.
The How to do Business with Local Government forum targeted small businesses primarily from the coastal region. Cardiff, Encinitas and Leucadia 101 MainStreets, the San Diego Coastal Chamber of Commerce, the Solana Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the Del Mar Village Association all notified and encouraged their membership to attend.
Paula Kirpalani of the Leucadia 101 MainStreet Association attended to better inform herself about the various issues facing small businesses. “I wanted to be able to pass the information along to our membership,” she said.
She learned about the community college’s small business programs that provide many services for free. “I thought that was very interesting and helpful,” she said.
The well-attended workshop provided informative presentations according to Kirpalani. “I’m glad that they had that for the community,” she said.
Opportunities for small businesses to work with state and county agencies were explained and how to navigate the myriad of contract rules and regulations was demonstrated.
In fact, purchasing agents from the County of San Diego, the San Diego Association of Governments, or SANDAG, the San Diego County Water Authority and MiraCosta College provided tips about navigating the waters of government contracting. The four government representatives informed attendees how to register their business to secure contracts, how to obtain appropriate certifications, develop relationships with government purchasing agents and find items most frequently purchased.
“Everyone was very receptive to hearing what the small business owner needs,” said David DaCosta, who owns Ocean Pacific Office Products in Encinitas. He and his wife also own Jamroc Restaurant in Leucadia. “Congrats to Pam Slater for allowing us to do this. Now, it’s all about what happens in the follow through afterwards,” he said.
“Local small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” Slater-Price said. “Last fiscal year the county signed over 2,000 contracts for $900 million with private-sector businesses. We want to give local companies every opportunity to compete and win local government contracts,” she added.
Phillip Ireland, owner of Del Mar-based, emotion Web Video, wants to be one of those selected to do business with government agencies.
After two years in business, he’s trying to develop government contracts. “It was a time to gather information about ‘how to,’” he said regarding the workshop. “It was an opportunity to meet people who are trying to do the same thing and to essentially put my face in front of these people as much as I can,” Ireland said.
Much of his work is video production for businesses. Ireland said he’s looking for government agencies that could benefit from community outreach using the film medium. “We also do internal training videos, business and professional profiles.”
Ireland, like many of the participants, said the event was a way to meet the right people who might otherwise be unavailable to a small business owner.
“It was a more intimate affair than some of the other workshops I’ve attended,” he said. As a result, many of the business owners were given the rare chance to learn the process of obtaining a contract in a one-on-one setting. “This is absolutely the best thing that could be put together for small business owners in the region,” Ireland said.