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 »

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