Fall 2011   
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How to Do Business With the City of Houston

Current Contracting Opportunities  
   Upcoming Events

Meet the Buyer Purchasing Forum


Attend this FREE event to learn how to do business with the City of Houston, and meet key individuals in charge of City contracting and procurement.  


Date: December 6, 2011

Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Location: George R. Brown Convention Center




   Contact US:
611 Walker, 7th Floor

Houston, TX 77002


T. 832.393.0600

F. 832.393.0646

Letter From Director Carlecia D. Wright



I am very honored and proud to provide my first contribution to this newsletter as the director of the Mayor's Office of Business Opportunity where our key objectives are to Educate, Connect, and Grow small businesses.


As many of you probably already know, when Mayor Annise Parker took office, she made a commitment to provide greater contracting opportunities for small, minority, women and disadvantaged businesses (S/MWDBEs). To accomplish this goal, she commissioned a Transition Taskforce to assess the Affirmative Action and Contract Compliance Division and make recommendations to her administration on how to improve the division's services, increase the capacity of S/MWDBEs, and increase participation of certified companies on City Contracts.


On April 18, 2011, I was appointed as Director to lead and facilitate organizational changes within the division. Shortly after Mayor Parker appointed me, the name of the Division changed to the Mayor's Office of Business Opportunity. Just as we changed our name after 27 years, we have also renewed the mandate to create business opportunities. The Mayor's Office of Business Opportunity is committed to creating a competitive and diverse business environment in the City of Houston by promoting the growth and success of local and small businesses, with special emphasis on historically underserved groups by ensuring their meaningful participation in the government procurement process.The new name is reflective of our mission and it also aligns with the new vision for program implementation to provide a greater impact to the S/MWDBE community.


The newsletter, renamed Insights to Opportunity, will speak to changes in the Division and the City, as well as success stories of local firms. In this issue, you will read about Hire Houston First, how to do business with the City of Houston, and upcoming events such as the Meet the Buyer Purchasing Forum to be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Tuesday, December 6, 2011.


I'm truly excited about the direction we're moving in order to ensure high quality services to our S/MWDBE community. Feel free to email any comments or suggestions you may have to director.obo@houstontx.gov. Also, please make note of our new telephone number 832-393-0600 and visit our website for program updates throughout the year.


Truly yours,


Carlecia D. Wright


Article2Houston Area Businesses Get Priority On City Contracts
HHF Press Conference
Hire Houston First Press Conference

Mayor Annise Parker's vision to create more opportunities for local businesses with the City of Houston became a reality when City Council passed the Hire Houston First (HHF) ordinance on August 31, 2011.  "As long as their pricing is competitive, I want to ensure preference is given to local contractors," said Mayor Annise Parker.  "In these tough economic times it's more important than ever for our tax dollars to stay in the community where they can support local businesses and the jobs they provide," said Mayor Parker.


The HHF ordinance will allow the City to consider a vendor's principle place of business and to grant preference to local businesses in awarding certain City contracts. For contracts under $100,000, the ordinance allows the City to award contracts for the purchase of goods to a local firm if the local firm's price is within five percent of the lowest bid from an out-of-town company.  For contracts exceeding $100,000, there can be no more than a three percent difference between the out-of-town company's low bid and the next highest offer from a local firm.  


Hire Houston First is administered by the Mayor's Office of Business Opportunity (OBO), which also certifies Small, Minority, Women, Persons with Disabilities, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises. The HHF ordinance adds more value to certified businesses because most of them already have a local presence. "I  believe that Hire Houston First provides another opportunity to educate, connect, and grow certified firms,"  said Director Wright. Businesses interested in becoming eligible to participate in the program must submit a HHF application and affidavit to OBO. Director Wright states that, "becoming an HHF business is another measure to level the playing field, and increase the opportunity for local firms to become prime contractors."  


Mayor Parker promised a Hire Houston First ordinance when she ran for office in 2009.   The mechanism to fully implement the concept was approved by state lawmakers in the last legislative session.  Mayor Parker expects that this program will help rejuvenate the local economy by retaining and increasing job opportunities and creating healthy competition in the marketplace.  At a press conference earlier this year, Mayor Parker said "Hire Houston First will provide discretion, where appropriate, without negating our responsibility to wisely manage the dollars entrusted to us.   It will maximize the local economic impact of our governmental spending."   


To learn more or register, click here 


article3Success Story: JSO Group and Veritas Supply
Jess and Elvira O'Campo


Jess and Elvira O'Campo are no odd couple. They are the proud owners of the JSO Group, Inc. and Veritas Supply, Inc. If you've ever had the opportunity to meet them, then you know that two things stand out boldly - how humble each of them are and how much they love their family. Jess and Elvira have three children; one of whom works in the family businesses.


The JSO Group, Inc., the O'Campos first venture, opened in 1981 providing professional accounting and auditing services.  In 2004, they started Veritas Supply, Inc., a supplier of medical safety and industrial products. Both firms are S/MWDBE certified with the City of Houston. 


While both firms are successful, the O'Campos are putting a lot of efforts into Veritas Supply, Inc. these days. Through a former Flour Daniels employee, Jess was introduced to a representative of KBR where he was subsequently afforded a contracting opportunity. Shortly after this introduction, interest in the City of Houston's Certification Program sparked. Once certified, Jess and Elvira went after prime contracting opportunities and learned a hard lesson with the loss of revenue in the beginning. After learning the ins and outs of City contracting by attending several trainings and workshops, the success for Veritas Supply, Inc. began to take off. The O'Campos also realized that more subcontracting opportunities existed and decided to "crawl" before "walking."


In 2007, The City of Houston's Public Works and Engineering Department awarded Veritas Supply, Inc. a contract where they served as the prime contractor. The company has now experienced success with such agencies as METRO and the Texas Department of Transportation just to name a few. The O'Campos would like to share with any company interested or currently seeking S/MWDBE certification with the City of Houston that success is inevitable through networking, ensuring your financial status is in order, and maintaining cost expenses.  After all, they agree that these are valuable lessons they've learned.


Mrs. O'Campo would like to add that if you want to ensure growth and prosperity for your company's success, "be positive, persevere and stay away from negativity".  To date, the O'Campos have loyal local customers as well as a high internet base with promises of an exciting future!

Article4Success Story: Lane Staffing


Are you in the right lane?  Just ask Carla Lane, owner of Lane Staffing.

Lane Staffing has been providing temporary staffing services, payroll services, pre-employment screening, and recruiting in the Houston area since 2007.  The firm is currently certified by the City of Houston as a Minority, Woman, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. Ms. Lane realized her dreams of starting a business when the sales at the staffing firm where she worked for over ten years started to decline. After purchasing the brand for her company, she went to the clients where she had established relationships, and asked them for their business to get her company off the ground and running. One would say she went after "the low hanging fruit".

The firm Ms. Lane worked for previously had been certified with the City of Houston so she knew right away that she needed to get certified as well. The knowledge she gained about subcontracting opportunities led Lane Staffing to become a prime contractor with the City of Houston and twelve other public agencies across the country.

Carla Lane
Carla Lane

Lane Staffing is headquartered in Houston and has offices in Dallas, Port Arthur, and Austin, Texas as well as in Orlando Florida.

Of course, being an entrepreneur, Ms. Lane has faced challenges similar to other small businesses - access to capital and managing growth. Her mantra over the years has been the same...Be consistent in the pursuit of opportunities; be excellent at every turn, and sharpen your pencil because price matters. 

We welcome your comments or suggestions. Please e-mail External Affairs Manager, Roger Harris, at Roger.Harris@houstontx.gov.

Educate. Connect. Grow.