A group of 22 small businesses were recognized Wednesday by Richland County as the first to become eligible to participate in projects and contracts with the County through a new program.
The Small Local Business Enterprises (SLBE) division is gearing up for its official launch in August for prospective SLBEs. As part of the preparation, the office has been busy making sure businesses are ready to take part.
“This is a very exciting day,” said Justine Jones, the assistant director of Procurement who oversees the SLBE division.
The office held an orientation class for the businesses that have been certified. Industries represented in the class covered construction, architecture, professional services, engineering and wholesale/commodities. Class attendees said their interest in joining the SLBE program is to have their businesses grow and to develop new partnerships.
Richland County Chair Norman Jackson, District 11, and County Administrator Tony McDonald joined in welcoming these new small businesses to the SLBE program.
“We’ll do everything we can to ensure you’ll be successful,” Jackson said.
Last year, Richland County Council approved an ordinance to establish the SLBE initiative. The program began accepting applications several weeks ago for the Transportation Penny Tax program development team to increase the number of certified small and local businesses eligible to participate in the County’s competitive process for projects included in the Transportation Penny Tax program, as well as countywide projects that do not receive federal funding.
Participation in the SLBE program is open to any small business in Richland County, and the requirements are race and gender neutral.
“Our intention is for firms to grow out of the program and be successful,” Jones said. “And we will support (them) in doing so.”
For more information on the SLBE office, email SLBE@rcgov.us.