March 29, 2021

San Jose City Hall is keen to diversify its contracts and prioritize local businesses.

The city’s public works division, which awards approximately $ 4 billion in public contracts each year, is hosting a free six-week seminar to help local businesses secure contracts.

Participants in the “Construction Academy” in San Jose learn how to bid on construction contracts, including the ability to build new bridges, sewage treatment plants, or even the new police training facility.

Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, head of the city’s Small Business Advisory Task Force, said the program will create fairer contract opportunities and maintain prosperity in the local economy.

“My plan is to continue this and institutionalize it where it is an integral part of how we do business,” said Jones. “The ultimate goal is to help our small business community, our minority business community, win these contracts, grow their businesses and ultimately build wealth that will benefit them, their employees, their families and their communities.”

Last year only 6% of city contracts went to small businesses. Local businesses received 28% of the dollar.

The city’s task force is advocating more small and minority-owned businesses contracting by collecting data to reveal inequalities, and recommends breaking larger projects into small contracts to give local small businesses a chance.

“If you look at the numbers of where the money is going and where the contracts are going, it’s only a tiny percentage of small and minority companies that get those contracts. That’s unacceptable,” Jones said. “We have to do better and that is my top priority in the year and nine months I have left to make this happen.”

Jesus Flores, president of the Latino Business Foundation Silicon Valley, said that many small construction companies in San Jose are run by Latinos. And small businesses often struggle to get city contracts because of limitations and confusion about the process.

“The biggest barrier small businesses find, if they even consider bidding on city projects, is the length of the process – how long, how difficult it is to apply for or bid for those contracts – and sometimes they don’t even know where to go do you want it to work even if the information could be there? “said Flores. “I think (the training program) can be a great success.”

The upcoming seminars will also be translated into Spanish and Vietnamese upon request, Jones said.

Expansion of the possibilities

Prior to the academy’s launch, Jones said local businesses would only be able to compete for a government contract if they had previously worked with another city. Those who complete the six-week seminar bypass this requirement and can bid on contracts.

“We removed that barrier,” said Jones.

In general, small business contracts can range from $ 50,000 to $ 600,000, according to Jones.

The city is offering two optional orientations on April 21 at 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. for those wishing to attend the seminar.

Contractors can learn more about capital improvement projects available over the next five years. You can also network with city workers and subcontractors. Registration closes on April 19th.

“As the administrator of a multi-billion dollar capital improvement program,” said Matt Cano, public works director, “we have a responsibility not only to build quality projects, but also to involve our community in building those projects, increasing the opportunities for local residents.” and companies. “

To register, go to www.sanjoseca.gov/

The seminar series runs from May 5th to June 16th from 4.30pm to 7.00pm. To register, go to www.sanjoseca.gov/constructionacademy. Registration closes on April 30th.

Visit the city’s job posting page to see the city’s vacancies.

Contact Carly Wipf at carly@sanjosespotlight.com or follow @CarlyChristineW on Twitter.

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