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Mission: We promote equity and increase participation in public contracting and procurement for small businesses owned by minorities, women and disadvantaged persons through education and certification.

Spring 2019 E-Newsletter

Update from the Director

Haiti visit 3.19.19

OMWBE team members with women small business owners from Haiti on their tour of the US and small business support agencies.

Spring is finally here and the team at OMWBE is ready to welcome in the sunshine! I hope 2019 has treated you well so far. My hope is that this newsletter provides a broad overview of who we are and what we do. It is designed to give our stakeholders a glimpse of what our incredible team does to increase certification of small, minority and women-owned businesses to facilitate their participation in public contracting and procurement.

In this edition of our newsletter you can find,
• Draft rule changes.
• Tips for using OMWBE certification to grow your business.
• Our Customer Satisfaction results and areas for growth.
• Process improvements, updates and more.

We are a small and mighty team, dedicated to helping small diverse business grow and building equity through a variety of programs. As always, we look forward to hearing from you.


Lisa van der Lugt


What's New at OMWBE?

Draft Rule Changes

OMWBE is proposing rule changes regarding state certification in order to provide clarification, eliminate unnecessary barriers and restrictions to certification for small businesses, and clarify language and grammar to reflect modern and respectful wording. Click here to see draft rule language, the public hearing date and how to attend, and contact information for submitting comments.

Please note two important dates. Written questions are due by May 9th. A public hearing will be held on May 16th at 9:30 AM.

My Business is Certified, Now What?

Business owners often ask us, “Now what?” They completed our process, they have their business’ state or federal certifications and are wondering what step comes next. While it is not a step-by-step process, here are some helpful tips to keep moving forward.

For doing business with governments,

A. To sell a product or service to government agencies make sure to contact the Washington State Procurement and Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). This statewide program offers no cost, confidential, one-on-one technical assistance in all aspects of selling to federal, state and local governments.

B. Register to receive notifications and apply for contracts. For federal work, that means the System for Award Management ( SAM), for contracting with Washington State agencies that means Washington's Electronic Business Solution (WEBS). Depending on the business, it may be best to be on local registries.

For general marketing and promotion of the business, including doing business with government, try these;

A. Make sure business cards, capabilities statement, web presence (website, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) have relevant information, current contact information, and include your firm's certification type.

B. Have accurate listings for the business. Make sure business contact and description are up to date in registries such as SAM, WEBS, and the OMWBE Directory.

C. Network. Meet people face to face when possible.

▪ Join professional groups, connect with an association or local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International or other groups.
▪ Find pre-bid meetings, project kick offs, procurement overviews and other outreach events that connect agencies, colleges, and prime contractors with potential subcontractors.
▪ Attend conferences relevant to the business and potential clients.
▪ Join a training or workshop to meet other small business owners. You never know who could be your next business partner.
Join professional groups, connect with an association or local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International or other groups.
Find pre-bid meetings, project kick offs, procurement overviews and other outreach events that connect agencies, colleges, and prime contractors with potential subcontractors.
Attend conferences relevant to the business and potential clients.
Join a training or workshop to meet other small business owners. You never know who could be your next business partner.

D. Ask for Help. There are organizations across the state ready to offer free and low cost business advice, counseling, trainings, loans and more. If you are not sure which organization is in your area, give us a call at 360-664-9763 or visit our list of resources.

2019 Legislative Session

With over one thousand bills starting the first week of legislative session, all agencies were busy assessing the impact of proposed legislation on their work and OWMBE was no exception. Our agency monitored bills that could affect our work supporting small diverse businesses in public contracting and procurement.

Legislative bills most relevant to OMWBE this session ranged from proposals to change public works roster limits, to the creation of an investigation unit within OMWBE, to an update to the Linked Deposit Program, to a change in job order contracting maximums, to the creation of a state equity office.

Customer Service Goals & Update

At OMWBE we are proud of our customer service and strive to make improvements in the certification process. To monitor progress, each applicant is invited to complete a brief survey after they finish the process. We’ve compiled the results and there are many areas to be proud of and some areas for improvement. Wondering how we're doing? Click here for the results.

Did You Know?

Process Improvement – Soon We Can Accept Credit Cards

We strive to make regular improvements to the certification process, especially ones that affect customer service. We’ve heard from stakeholders the need for OMWBE to accept credit card payments for application fees and renewals. We are currently working on this process and hope to roll out this procedure later this year. You will hear more from us in the near future.

Alliance NW 3.7.19

Moises, Denelle and Kathryn met with hundreds of business owners at Alliance NW.

OMWBE Outreach is Ramping Back Up in 2019

OMWBE team members conduct outreach in a variety of ways. We promote using diverse small businesses to sister state agencies, colleges and prime contractors. We meet with organizations with missions to help diverse small businesses. We meet and take calls with banks and business owners to best understand how to use our Linked Deposit Loan Program, and we help small business owners navigate the certification process.

A one-on-one conversation can be the best way to share information. While we can’t make it to every event, we do update our calendar regularly. Check out the OMWBE calendar here. We keep our calendar as up to date as possible with a variety of activities from general small business trainings to specific project focused prime contractor outreach events. Depending on your type of business, you might find an event near you that could be the perfect place to pick up that new contract, client or business partner.

Governor’s Subcabinet on Business Diversity Update

The Governor’s formation of the Business Diversity Subcabinet in 2015 included the launching of the first statewide disparity study. The study will be finalized this spring. These results will allow the state to continue its efforts to improve equal access and opportunities for certified minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses.

The disparity study is an important step to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in state government contracting. The study will provide the state with a better understanding of where to focus efforts and is one step to inform the Subcabinet's work within an established a legal path. The 2016 Attorney General's formal opinion regarding RCW 49.60.400 (I-200), obtained by the Subcabinet, identifies a clear and deliberate legal path so that state agencies can achieve a durable and sustainable solution.

Help with Applications and More is Always Available

We are here to be of service. If you have any questions about OMWBE certification or our website, please use our contact page or call us directly at 360-664-9750 or 866-208-1064. We also offer free telephone interpretation services available in 240 languages and dialects--just let us know. If you are in Olympia and would like assistance in person, visit us! We are located at 1110 Capitol Way South, Suite 150 Olympia, WA 98501.

Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter. Please know that OMWBE staff are truly mission-driven. We strive to do our best each and every day to serve every person who seeks our assistance.


OMWBE Resources

Lisa - Contracting panel - GREI 12.14.18

Director Lisa van der Lugt (far right) and distinguished panelists at the Governing for Regional Equity and Inclusion conference.


Wishing you the best,
Director Lisa van der Lugt and OMWBE Team Members

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OMWBE is committed to providing equal access to our services. If you need accommodation, please call 866-208-1064 or WA State Relay 711. We offer free telephone translation services.


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