Engineering firm meets need, prospers

TAMPA — It began with two engineers and the understanding of a need in the marketplace.

During the past four years, Arehna Engineering Inc. has grown from a two-person startup to a 35-person operation based in 9,000-square-foot facilities, and continues to expand.

Founders Jessica McRory, president, and Sonia Florence, vice president, met as co-workers at an engineering consulting firm.

“We got to know each other and found each other’s strengths and from there it made sense to come together and start a company,” Florence said.

They founded Arehna in January 2009. The company provides geotechnical and materials testing services primarily in a sub-consultant role.

As a women-owned firm, Arehna qualifies as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, which makes it competitive for certain government projects.

“We knew it was a benefit that we were both women engineers,” Florence said.

The company has also built a staff of seasoned engineers and established a reputation in the local area.

Active marketing and networking helped moved the firm forward during some of the bleakest days in the economy, the founders said… Read more ».

Pursuit of stimulus work a big job for small business

TAMPA — Scarce revenue sources in the private sector continue to lead small business owners to the 407 pages of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in search of opportunities.

The stimulus bill has been a sign of hope for some and a cause for frustration for others, but many Tampa Bay business owners are finally learning that stimulus-related jobs exist beyond laying down asphalt and filling potholes.

The Florida Department of Transportation hired Valerie Ciudad-Real’s Tampa communications services firm The ValErin Group Inc. to provide public information services for several upcoming enhancement projects in the Manatee area.

Finding out about stimulus work requires phone calls, attendance at conferences and information events, and “always asking questions” of clients, Ciudad-Real said.

“You are not going to walk into something making money,” she said. “It takes time. Have patience and develop relationships, get certification, go to as many things as you can.”

FDOT has a goal to commit 8.1 percent of stimulus projects to certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises that are minority- or female-owned.

DBE certification has opened doors, Ciudad-Real said, and she suggested businesses that qualify obtain the certification.

Jessica McRory, president of Tampa geotechnical engineering firm Arehna Engineering Inc., on Tuesday received her DBE certification after a process she said was thorough and lengthy, which required proof of ownership and personal assets and availability for a site visit… Read more »