Winter/Spring 2013   
Header - bottom
   In this issue
Stay Connected to Opportunity

   Helpful Links
How to Do Business With the City of Houston

Current Contracting Opportunities  
   Upcoming Events

Government Procurement Connections (GPC)


GPC Making the Right Connections offers workshops, face-to-face meetings, expos, and opportunities to introduce your products or services to over 200 local, state, federal agencies and large prime exhibitors. Register today!   


Date:  March 27-28, 2013  

Location: George R. Brown Convention Center


HAS Runway to Business Opportunities


The Houston Airport System (HAS) will be hosting its 7th Annual Runway to Business Opportunities at the Humble Civic Center. Exhibitors at this networking event will include: current prime contractors with the Airport, key decision makers from the HAS, as well as other local and state entities. Attendees will hear the latest from industry experts, and get to enjoy "The Taste of the Airport" lunch where concessionaires from the airports showcase their delectable delights!! 


Date: May 9, 2013
Time: 8:30am - 3:00pm  


Humble Civic Center, 8233 Will Clayton Parkway

Humble, TX 77338  




   Contact US:
611 Walker, 7th Floor

Houston, TX 77002 

T. 832.393.0600

F. 832.393.0646

Anchor1Letter from the Director: Carlecia D. Wright



I am truly elated about our first 2013 edition of Insights to Opportunity. I extend my sincerest gratitude to the S/MWDBE community for all of the support given in 2012.


We rang in 2013 with a reinforced commitment to implement more strategies and programs geared towards enhancing and fostering meaningful and successful S/MWDBEs' participation within the City's procurement activities. This year, Mayor Annise Parker and OBO are working on a series of new initiatives aimed at supporting business development.


One of these exciting initiatives is the LiftOff Houston! Business Plan Competition. This competition is a collaborative effort between the Houston Public Library (HPL), OBO, and Capital One Bank. It is designed to encourage and empower residents of the City of Houston and our eight-county area (Harris, Chambers, Brazoria, Fort Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery, and Waller) to pursue their dream or goal of owning their own business, while at the same time, engaging them in the utilization of viable resources made available through HPL. The competition will be open to start-up businesses only and thanks to Capital One Bank, will offer cash prizes up to $15,000. Please tell aspiring entrepreneurs to keep a watchful eye out for our LiftOff Houston! launch date in April, 2013.


As many of you already know, the Hire Houston First Program (HHF) was birthed as a result of a longstanding goal of Mayor Parker's to have a city procurement program that promotes economic opportunities for Houston businesses. On January 30, 2013, Mayor Annise Parker announced the release of the first report for the Hire Houston First Program. The report reflects the progress and effectiveness of HHF from its inception in October, 2011 through September, 2012. A copy of the HHF Progress Report has been published and can be accessed on the OBO website.


We are very pleased to give the S/MWDBE community a sneak preview of OBO's new Contracts Database which will go live on our website in April, 2013. As a part of our efforts to be as translucent as possible, we have created a portal which affords the ability to search for information on City of Houston open and closed contracts. With this new feature, individuals will be able to track S/MWDBE goals set on City contracts as well as the prime contractors' progress in meeting those goals.


In our efforts to assist newly certified firms with understanding their S/MWDBE certification and the City of Houston's procurement process, OBO is bringing back its I'm Certified, What's Next? workshop. This workshop will cover a range of topics to include an overview of OBO's services, city-wide goals, introduction of the Strategic Purchasing Division, types of solicitations, and certification by the numbers. I'm Certified, What's Next? is free and open to all certified firms. The next workshop will be held on Thursday, April 25, 2013, 9:00 - 11:30 am, 611 Walker Street, Garden Level Auditorium. For questions or additional information on the I'm Certified, What's Next? workshop, please contact Will Norwood at


Finally, if you need information about starting a new business, contact our Houston Business Solutions Center (HBSC) where you can obtain free information on small business start-up assistance, one-on-one counseling through SCORE, small business workshops, and much more. HBSC also helps businesses navigate through the City's permitting, licensing and regulatory processes.


As you can see, OBO is on the move. Stay tuned in to Insights to Opportunity's e-Newsletter, HTV show, and other e-communications from the Office of Business Opportunity, as we continue to provide you with "news you can use," programs, and initiatives to help Educate, Connect, and Grow your small, minority, woman, or disadvantaged owned business.


If you have any comments or suggestions, email me at


Truly yours,


Carlecia D. Wright
Anchor2Featured Opportunity:
Houston First Corporation

In the City of Houston, business owners look to public and private agencies to provide their goods and services and Houston First Corporation (HFC) may be looking for what your business offers. HFC is a local-government corporation that operates the city's finest arts and convention facilities to position Houston as a world-class destination. Formerly the city's Convention & Entertainment Facilities Department, HFC owns the Hilton Americas-Houston hotel and manages several city-owned buildings, outdoor properties and parking facilities. These properties include the George R. Brown Convention Center, Wortham Center, Jones Hall, Jones Plaza, Miller Outdoor Theatre Talento Bilingue de Houston, and parking garages that accommodate over 7, 000 vehicles.


Its diversity plan seeks to promote the growth of MWBEs, SBEs and HUBs; provide robust opportunities to participate in the procurement process; improve the participation of diversity businesses in contracting and procurement activities; stimulate the growth of local diversity businesses in all areas of contracting; and maintain good-faith efforts to award prime contracts and subcontracts to diversity businesses.    


"Like the City of Houston, Houston First encourages full participation of local small, minority, women and historically underutilized businesses in our contracting," said Dawn Ullrich, HFC's president and CEO. "It's something we're committed to and take very seriously."


Houston First's diversity participation goal is 30 percent of annual expenditures in eligible contracts and direct procurement. It accepts certifications from the City of Houston, State of Texas, Houston Minority Supplier Development Council and Women's Business Enterprise Alliance. 


Companies seeking business opportunities are encouraged to visit the Houston First website. 

article3Inside the Office of Business Opportunity: Small Business Development


New to the Office of Business Opportunity is the position of Business Development Manager. The responsibility of this unique role is to assist certified firms in navigating through the procurement process of the City, provide technical assistance to build capacity, and help identify additional public and private sector opportunitiesWill Norwood in the Greater Houston Area. With all the different departments and purchasers within the City of Houston, finding the right person can be challenging at times.  Will Norwood has been given this great task and looks forward to working with all of you. 

Our office has several workshops and programs launching this year so be sure to check the OBO website periodically. A few workshops that will be launched this year include: Mentor Protégé Program and "I'm Certified What's Next" workshop. Questions about business development can be sent to

anchor7Business Plan Competition: Lift Off Houston

It is our pleasure to announce the launch of Lift off Houston! the City of Houston's first business plan competition! The competition is a collaborative effort between the Office of Business Opportunity, Houston Public Library, and Capital One Bank designed to empower and engage Houstonians seeking to start a business with the robust resources available through the Office of Business Opportunity and the Houston Public Library. Applicants are required to live within the city limits, have a Houston Public Library card, and participate in workshops presented by SCORE ranging from business plan basics to presenting capital requests to financial institutions, as well as information sessions on relevant library business resources.  This requirement will enable individuals to successfully research, develop and present their business plan over a 6 month period with additional support from professional business mentors to further refine the business plan. With these tools for success we are confident this competition will lift off these ideas into successful Houston businesses! The competition will be open to start-up businesses only and thanks to Capital One Bank, will offer cash prizes up to $15,000. This entrepreneurial initiative will encourage Houston residents to achieve their goals of business ownership while contributing to the local growth and sustainability of the Houston economy. Please tell aspiring entrepreneurs to keep a watchful eye out for our Liftoff Houston! launch on April 26th during the Mayor's Annual State of the City Address.

Anchor4Stay Connected to Opportunities 
The Office of Business Opportunity has gone social. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get the most up to date information on OBO events, workshops and reports.  
Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter 

Anchor5Success Story: B&W Industrial Supply 


Richard Webb, President and CEO, formed B&W Industrial Supply in 1996. The company provides lubricants, cleaners, degreasers, antifreeze, fuel and general industrial supplies. Webb's knowledge of the industry comes from working with Arco as a superintendent of maintenance and  working as a consultant for Mobil Oil.


In 1998, the firm explored the City of Houston's certification program and attended a per-certification workshop. After completing the application process, B&W Industrial Supply became certified as a Minority Business Enterprise. In addition to leveraging the relationships Webb had developed over his years working for Arco and Mobile Oil, the S/MWPDBE Program provided access to contracting opportunities with the City of Houston and other public agencies.


B&W Industrial's client list includes the City of Houston, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Port of Houston, Prairie View A&M University, University of Houston, and Texas A&M. Richard states that one of his best contract awards was as a subcontractor to NAPA on a City of Houston's parts contract.


B&W Industrial Supply is located in North Houston and employs five people. What are some of the secrets to his success? Webb attributes the success of the company to keeping a high credit rating, staying focused, consulting others, and paying taxes on time. B$W success story

anchor6Success Story: Gurrola Reprographics, Inc. 


Since 1969, Gurrola Reprographics, Inc. has provided reprographic services to the legal and energy industries of Houston, Texas. The company was started by Charles Gurrola from humble beginnings in the Galleria area. Sons Charlie and Kenneth Gurrola now run the family business that has grown and is headquartered in the Washington Corridor. Currently certified as a Minority Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, the Gurrola's learned about certification in the early nineties when clients began to ask if they were certified.


Gurrola Reprographics, Inc. provides a substantial amount of its reprographic services as a subcontractor to firms that do business with public sector agencies such as the City of Houston, METRO, Houston Independent School District, Port of Houston Authority, and Texas Department of Transportation. According to President, Charlie Gurrola, the firm has had the opportunity to serve as a prime contractor with a few of the public sector agencies in the area.


The Gurrola's credit the success of the business to providing excellent customer service and retaining valuable employees. According to Vice President, Kenneth Gurrola, there are several employees that have been with the company more than 30 years. In addition, the family owned business has learned to create a balance among the other family members that help run the company which include: sister Dianna, niece Sara, and nephew Brian. The advice to other small businesses would be to provide excellent customer service, have senior employees train and mentor new employees, and most importantly, give back to the community. Gurrola Success Story


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

Educate. Connect. Grow.