fALL 2014    
Insights to Opportunity
Promoting equal access and economic opportunity for procurement.
   In this issue
Buildup Houston

6th Annual

Meet The Buyer

When:    December 11, 2014

Where:   George R. Brown  Convention Center

Time:      9AM - 12PM


Register Here


Pre-Certification Workshop 

When:  Every Thursday

(except on City Holidays)

Where: 611 Walker, 7th Floor

            Houston, TX 77002

Time:   2PM - 4PM

   Contact US
611 Walker, 7th Floor

Houston, TX 77002


T. 832.393.0600

F. 832.393.0646


   Anchor1 Letter from the Director  



Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Insights to Opportunity.

The Office of Business Opportunity recognizes that small businesses are the center and vitality of our local economy. We also know that small businesses sometimes face challenges which impact their abilities to grow and access the resources needed to help them secure contracting opportunities. Consequently, we've reaffirmed our commitment to make available programs, services and resources that will help Educate, Connect, and Grow minority, women, small, and disadvantaged owned businesses. To that end, over the past several months, OBO has actively introduced and implemented several new strategies and very exciting programs, initiatives, and events which are presented as articles in this version of the e-Newsletter.

With these new services, we've also engaged in new partnerships and collaborations. I'm proud to welcome our newest partner - University of Houston Downtown. I would also like to acknowledge some other incredible partners that have come to the forefront in support of OBO's efforts to create a competitive and diverse business environment in the City of Houston - AT&T, Capital One Bank, IBC Bank, Lone Star College, BBVA Compass Stadium, SER Jobs for Progress, Houston Area Urban League, and the Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions as well as our existing partners - SCORE and ACCION Texas.

As we begin preparing for the holiday season, I would also like to extend sincerest gratitude to Mayor Annise D. Parker and the OBO Advisory Board for their dedication and immeasurable support of what we do for small businesses.


I'm truly excited about the direction we're moving in order to ensure high quality services to our MWSDBE community. We constantly receive feedback from our MWSDBEs, contracting organizations, Council members, and other stakeholders. Please know that we're paying attention and will continue seeking to identify programs and initiatives that will assist MWSDBEs in being successful in the procurement process.


OBO's TV show, Insights to Opportunity, the namesake of this newsletter, is back on the air! The show's topics and discussions with our special guests focus on information and resources that link MWSDBEs to potential contracting opportunities. The show airs on Houston Television (HTV). Please check your local TV listing for time and channel or visit HTV's channel guide on their website at www.houstontx.gov/htv/index.html.


Comments or suggestions? Please feel free to email me at director.obo@houstontx.gov.


Finally, on behalf of the entire OBO team, we wish you Season's Greetings.


Truly yours,


Carlecia D. Wright



Anchor26th Annual

"Meet the Buyer"

         Purchasing Forum               


Join us for your opportunity to meet with Buyers from City of Houston Departments and other government agencies. Guest speakers will include Council Member Larry Green, Director Carlecia Wright and Chief Procurement Officer Lourdes Coss.

WHEN:     Thursday, December 11, 2014
WHERE:   George R. Brown Convention Center
TIME:        9AM - 12PM

RSVP by visiting http://tinyurl.com/mmmm4o6 


    Anchor3Champions of Diversity Awards 2014




On October 28, 2014, Mayor Annise D. Parker (Honorary Chair), the City of Houston's Office of Business Opportunity Advisory Board, and the Office of Business Opportunity Department, hosted its second annual Champions of Diversity Awards Ceremony at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.


The event honored prime contractors and certified minority, women and small business enterprises that work on City of Houston contracts. A City department and community partner were also honored for their contributions in helping to educate and grow small businesses.


The evening encompassed a VIP reception, which afforded photo opportunities with Mayor Parker for the honorees and sponsors. The reception was then followed by a power-packed awards ceremony which celebrated the achievements of those prime contractors who went above and beyond in their embracement and inclusion of certified firms in City contracts, the certified firms who excelled in the performance on City contracts, the City department that significantly improved the participation of certified firms on their contracts in the previous year, and the community partner whose commitment to the principles of diversity through various community initiatives assisted small businesses. Once again we congratulate the honorees:


Construction Contractors of the Year

PepperLawson Construction

Tikon Group, Inc.


Professional Services Contractors of the Year

RS&H, Inc.

KIT Professionals, Inc.


Purchasing Contractors of the Year

Texas Concrete Enterprise Ready Mix, Inc.

Nation Waste, Inc.


City Department of the Year

Administration & Regulatory Affairs


Community Partner of the Year

Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses, Houston Community College



None of this would have been possible without the companies, organizations, and individuals who supported and sponsored this monumental event. We extend our deepest gratitude to each of you.


The Office of Business Opportunity was created thirty years ago when Houston was the first City in the state of Texas to pass an MWBE ordinance. Since then, more than $5 billion has been awarded to minority and women owned businesses in the City of Houston and over $1 billion has been awarded during Mayor Annise Parker's Administration.






Anchor4Hire Me Now! Job Fair 



On September 25th, 2014 the Office of Business Opportunity on behalf of the City of Houston hosted its inaugural Hire Me Now! Job Fair sponsored by AT&T, Capital One, Lone Star College and IBC Bank.


Hire Me Now! Job Fair served over 3,000 Houston area residents and over 100 employers ranging from healthcare, retail and government.  


TweetMyJobs! Houston hosted a small business employer's workshop to teach businesses how to post jobs at no cost to the TweetMyJobs! website as a recruitment tool and job seekers were given instruction on integrating social media into their job search.


Workforce Solutions, a community partner, hosted mock interview workshops for job seekers, and also gave interviewing tips on performing well and getting a job from a successful interview.


The City of Houston Human Resources department staff reviewed resumes and offered resume tips to job seekers.


The Office of Business Opportunity would like to thank all of its sponsors and media sponsors for making this event such a success! Community partners and media sponsors:

  • AT&T
  • Clear Channel Outdoor
  • Capital One Bank
  • Lone Star College
  • IBC Bank
  • Workforce Solutions
  • Houston Area Urban League
  • Newswire Houston
  • KLTN 102.9
  • KOVE 106.5
  • Univision
  • SER
  • CBS Radio
  • JobSparx





The City of Houston's Office of Business Opportunity, the University of Houston-Downtown and Interise are pleased to announce, "Build Up Houston". Build Up Houston is a comprehensive, seven month program designed to increase the capacity and success of small businesses in the construction industry with doing business in the City of Houston.

Build Up Houston is designed to combine the best of classroom learning with real-world case studies and curriculum from Interise's Streetwise MBA™. Business owners will form lasting relationships with each other and gain the knowledge needed to tactfully expand their business. Construction industry experts, business peers, and instructors will provide insight, strategies, motivation, and accountability.


Throughout the curriculum, the Program Instructor will cover topics such as:

  • Business Development

  • Accessing Capital

  • Strategic Planning

  • Financial Management

  • Marketing and Sales

  • Human Resources 

Construction Subject Matter Experts will cover:

  • Estimating & Bidding

  • Financial Statements

  • Financial Analysis

  • Bonding & Insurance

  • Project Management

  • One-on-One Matchmaking

For more information please visit:





Anchor6Small Business Tips


Tips for Building Relationships with Subcontractors to meet MWBE Goals

1. Conduct Vendor Outreach - The key is to meet vendors and suppliers in order to build relationships. This can be done by attending networking opportunities hosted by agencies, trade organizations, and chambers of commerce, hosting your own networking event at your local trade organization, visiting vendor and supplier organizations, holding an informal meet and greet at your office, and scheduling conference calls and in-person meetings.


2.  Provide Access to Information and Share Priorities - Provide only the necessary information at the right time to allow vendors to better service your needs. Providing limited forecast information, new product launches, changes in design or scope of work, and proposal due dates are some examples.


3. Build Relationships with Key Vendors and Allow Them to Help You Strategize - Tap into your vendor's expertise to help you gain a competitive advantage to make your produces better or cheaper, or to provide faster deliverables.


4. Have Long Term Objectives - Seek to obtain long-term relationship in lieu of changing vendors often to obtain marginal cost savings. Changing vendors often could result in higher costs and lower quality over time. Having long term relationships with vendors and suppliers allows you to gain their trust, which could result in priority treatment and access to expert knowledge.


5.  Strive for a Win-Win Agreement - Move from competition to cooperation and collaboration to achieve the best solutions to build a long-term fruitful relationship.



Tips for Subcontractors to Market themselves to Prime Contractors:

1. Join a local Trade Organization


2. Introduce yourself to the estimators and/or principals of the companies so they can put a face with your name; And stay in touch with Prime Contractor


3. Provide references and history of work experience


4. Submit quotes to Prime Contractors in a timely manner


5. Include your business contact information and cell phone number on your bid for immediate follow up questions


6. Submit the lowest quote and be clear on your scope services


7. Ask Prime Contractors for feedback on your proposal


8. Attend the City's Pre-Bid conferences


9. Ensure your contact information is up to date in the City's MWSBE Directory



10. Update your vendor profile for any expansion of services and capabilities




Attention Prime Contractors: If you are unable to meet the City's advertised MWBE goal despite your best efforts, you can submit a Good Faith Efforts request for review with the Office of Business Opportunity. Your Good Faith Efforts request is evaluated based on your demonstration of the guidelines set forth in the City's Good Faith Efforts Policy. Please refer to the City's Good Faith Efforts Policy for guidance: http://www.houstontx.gov/obo/docsandforms/goodfaithefforts.pdf


Attention MWSBE Subcontractors: If price competitiveness is the reason for your bid rejection, a meeting must be held with the Prime Contractor to discuss the rejection, if requested. Please refer to the City's Good Faith Efforts Policy for additional information: http://www.houstontx.gov/obo/docsandforms/goodfaithefforts.pdf 





Anchor7 Success Story: 

Cavazos Communications 


Agency owner, Sylvia Cavazos, established CAVAZOS Communications in 2002 in order to achieve her vision of providing effective, meaningful, and proven communications counsel to organizations that are not yet successfully reaching their target audiences. Sylvia provides clients with insightful professional counsel derived from her 20-plus years experience in public relations, marketing, advertising, and radio/TV journalism in the general, multicultural and Hispanic markets.



CAVAZOS Communications, a certified MWDBE with the City of Houston is a firm dedicated to reaching multi-cultural audiences and under-served communities through focused engagement and communications utilizing localization and grassroots outreach on a national, regional and/or local level.


The firm offers a broad range of public relations, public affairs, advertising, brand management and marketing services with special expertise in integrating messages in-culture and finding a common ground for engagement.  CAVAZOS has varied experience with corporate, non-profit and government clients. CAVAZOS has in-house capabilities in the following:

  • Multicultural Outreach - Hispanics/Latinos - Asian - African-Americans - International audiences - Diverse demographics

  • Under-served Communities - Seniors - Veterans - Homeless - etc.

  • Public Affairs - Outreach to community and government representatives

  • Media Relations & Crisis and Issues management

  • Community engagement and strategic philanthropy

  • Employee communications

  • In-culture messaging - Trans-creations / Translations (Spanish - Chinese - Vietnamese - Korean - other languages as required)

    Anchor8Success Story: CRES             


Founded in 2001, CRES led the way in introducing an environmentally-friendly approach to real estate purchases. CRES's founder, Connie Rankin, developed her top-notch business acumen for 20 years by working at PM Realty Group. With that expertise, she used all the resources at her disposal to make it to the top. Mayor Parker noted just last year that Rankin took advantage of the Hire Houston First program to grow her business by 200%. As CRES continues to excel, it has become an essential part of Houston's economic growth.


In 2008, Rankin furthered her reputation for excellence when her company received the LEED Professional Accreditation designation, given to those who sponsor green building projects. Even more awe-inspiring, though, was the fact that she was the first CEO of a certified woman-owned commercial real estate company to receive such a designation. Known as "The Tenant's Best Advocate," Connie Rankin's business flourished from a mere start-up to a dominant force whose unparalleled expertise is constantly sought out in the Houston real estate market.

We welcome your comments or suggestions. Please e-mail Tanya Makany-Rivera, External Affairs Manager at Tanya.Makany-Rivera@houstontx.gov .

Educate. Connect. Grow.