Help for Small Businesses - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Help for Small Businesses

November 2, 2007

Albany - -  Area governmental agencies are being audited on how they select bids for special projects and who gets those bids. It happens every five years to make sure they're giving small, local businesses a fair shake. City and county officials hope the results are much different from the last audit.

Eddie Houston takes pride in his job.

"Pick up the debris, come in and cut the grass and keep the shrubbery trim and basically keep the park clean."

He owns E&H Lawn Care. Almost two years ago he got his biggest project, maintaining the landscape of a city park. He says it was a difficult process.

"I just thank God my bid is one that they accepted."

The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Businesses works with people like Houston to ensure small business owners get a chance at the millions of dollars available from city and county contracts.

"Complete the paperwork, how to help them fill out their loan papers if they need that, help them do a business plan," says Pinky Modeste.

Next month, the office also plans to unveil a new online bid program.

"Anybody will be able to come up here all over the state of Georgia here at our office," she says.

It's one of several things Modeste's office is doing to help small businesses, especially after a study seven years ago that recommended the city and county do more to help small businesses.

"What was discovered then is that there was passive discrimination in government purchasing," Modeste says.

Now, area officials are doing all they can to make sure all business owners get a fair chance. It's helped Houston's venture.

"That's why I want to expand so I can hire more employees," he says.

So he can make it big, but always remembering where he came from.

"Before a business became large, it had to be small," Modeste adds.

Businesses who want to take advantage of these services can contact the Small Business Office at 229-878-3159.

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