Omaha Public Schools spend an estimated $20 million a year on outside contracts.
Getting some piece of this proverbial pie could benefit any small business and likely keep a few open for at least another year. And the school district wants to make sure small businesses are competing for these contracts.
As part of this effort, school officials just hired a director of economic inclusion. The new director’s job is to focus on both the contracts and helping local companies benefit from them over the next few years.
The director will coach these small, local companies, which are primarily in the construction business, to help broaden their competitive ability. This will help them to better compete for ongoing contracts beyond construction within the school district.
Karlus Cozart, the district’s director of economic inclusion, was quoted in a published report saying,
“[This is meant to help these local small businesses] go beyond one job and become sustainable businesses in their community where it really makes a difference.”
District officials and a bond consultant, Jacobs Project Management, recently held a six-week jobs fair for small business owners.
Jacobs Program Manager Mark Sommer said:
“[The purpose was] to help them build foundations for their businesses in estimating, scheduling, contracts and businesses ethics. There are going to be some challenges. Capacity is going to be an area that we have to help people grow and that’s part of the community fair tonight, workforce development.”
Raymond Heisser, who recently graduated from the six-week course, said that influencing companies to help other companies expand beyond their niche also is key. “It starts with construction and it goes from there,” he said.
Image: Jacobs Construction Academy Graduates/Omaha Public School District