Opportunities in a Tough Economy

By Rachel Owens and Stephanie Green, CPUC Small Business Liaison

NAWBO members have been asking how to obtain contracts with the State of California. On March 26, 2006, then Governor Schwarzenegger signed an executive order requiring all state agencies to award 25 percent of their annual contracting dollars to small business (defined as a California-based business with fewer than 100 employees and gross receipts of $12 million or less over the previous three tax years).

If your business offers a service or a product that a state agency may need, consider bidding for a contract. Contracts vary widely in size from less than $5,000 to millions of dollars. Make sure you are certified as a Small Business or a DVBE.  Certification is free and provides valuable benefits, such as affording you a 5 percent bid preference on state contracts. To get certified, visit the California Department of General Services website at www.getcertified.dgs.ca.gov or call 916-375-4940. Online certification is simple and takes only a few minutes.

In addition to the 25 percent goal, most state agencies are required to have a dedicated advocate who coordinates the small business procurement process. Advocates strive to ensure that their agencies meet the goal. One agency actively reaching out to small business is the CA Public Utilities Commission. The CPUC regulates not only investor-owned energy, communications, transportation, and water utilities, but is also committed to serving the needs of the small business community.

CPUC-regulated utilities, which conduct millions of dollars of business in California every year, represent another significant area of opportunity for small businesses. The utilities continue to have contracting needs even during difficult economic times, as they must provide essential services. Utilities must procure contracts for construction services, janitorial services, power tools, weed abatement, landscaping, pest control, hauling, furniture, among others.  In particular, there are certain sectors such as green building, renewable energy, and solar installation that are rapidly expanding in California.  The state’s utilities include Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, and Sempra Energy Utilities (San Diego Gas and Electric and Southern California Gas), California Water Association, Verizon, and AT&T.

To learn more about the CPUC’s Small Business Program visit www.cpuc.ca.gov/smbus or contact Small Business Liaison Stephanie Green at smallbiz@cpuc.ca.gov or call 1-800-253-0500.  To learn more about certification contact Rachel Owens rachel@succession-strategies.com or call 714-560-9022.

Rachel Owens
Rachel Owens is President of Succession Strategies
, a business consulting firm specializing in helping family owned and closely held businesses build value.

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