Lisa photo

Message from the Director

We have had a great year at OMWBE and we could not have done it without the partnership of other state agencies and the support of organizations across the state that share our mission to achieve equity and inclusion in contracting. We also have a staff at OMWBE that brings amazing energy and dedication to serving all customers.

As an organization that cares, we strive daily to be responsive to the feedback and goals of small business owners as we assist them in gaining certification so they can pursue public bid opportunities. We have received positive feedback about our assistance to state agencies as they shape inclusion plans and develop new strategies to increase diverse spending.

The care we demonstrate to our partners and customers is embodied within our team as well. I have been thrilled to see our staff adopt the Infants at Work program, which allows parents to work alongside their newborn up to age six months. Since we adopted the program, we have had two infants in the workplace that allowed greater options for employees to return to work while honoring their responsibility as parents. I am also so proud of the team’s generosity when our agency ranks among the highest in per capita donations across state agencies to food and book drives.

In 2020 our work to certify firms will continue and we will develop efficiencies to keep pace with an anticipated increase in applications. I’m proud to share some highlights for this year:

• We changed internal processes and reduced average federal application processing times dramatically. A year ago the average was 164 days, but in November 2019 processing was down to 81 days. This means OMWBE succeeded in its 90-day turnaround goal 83 percent of the time as of November 2019, an improvement from 24 percent in December 2018.
• In July 2019 we launched a credit card payment for certification fees, streamlining the process for business owners.
• By December 1, OMWBE has certified 2,627 firms; of those, 1,240 were federal certifications, 2,259 were state certifications, totaling 3,499.
Linked Deposit Loan Program:
• As of November 14, 264 firms had at least one loan enrolled in the Linked Deposit Program. These loans totaled $128,773,585.
Governor’s Subcabinet on Business Diversity:
• OMWBE delivered information and presentations to more than 20 groups across the state with information about the diversity study and to respond to questions.
Supplier Diversity:
• Consultations on achieving supplier diversity and inclusion plans were held with 63 state agencies, eight higher education institutions, and 22 prime contractors.

Lisa van der Lugt,
Executive Director

Governor's Subcabinet on Business Diversity maps out next steps

The Governor’s Subcabinet on Business Diversity continues to work to implement a roadmap to contracting equity. After the state’s first comprehensive Disparity Study was released in June, the Subcabinet transitioned to OMWBE. We then launched a series of visits to share the study’s recommendations with communities across the state.

The Disparity Study made clear that there is room for improvement for state contracting with firms owned by minorities and women. So the Subcabinet has been diligently working on solutions to address the recommendations of the study.

The Subcabinet also has been coordinating the work of a Community of Practice to implement tools and resources that state contract professionals can use to implement supplier diversity best practices.

In 2020, we will continue to work through the recommendations from the Disparity Study, including enhancing data collection so that the state can monitor progress toward voluntary inclusion goals, increase our outreach efforts to business owners, and support for state agencies.

See the Roadmap on Contracting Equity and other updates about the Subcabinet

OMWBE guides state agencies on supplier diversity

OMWBE works regularly with state agencies to adopt best practices for their agency that will enable them to increase contracting and spending with certified firms owned by minorities, women, and veterans. This work supports the state’s overall goal to have a competitive and diverse economy.

Each year state agencies report to OMWBE on their annual spending and they share inclusion plans, explaining the steps the agencies will take to increase the participation of certified businesses in their spending.

[See state agency reports and plans](https://omwbe.wa.gov/state-supplier-diversity-reporting/agency-supplier-diversity)

Keeping your certification on track: Meet Caleb


Caleb McInvaille leads certification outreach for OMWBE, and as the Linked Deposit Coordinator, works with banks and business owners to help small businesses take advantage of OMWBE’s Linked Deposit Loan Program.

Caleb was attending the Small Business Summit hosted by the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County when a business owner stopped by OMWBE’s table.

The business owner had initiated the process to renew her WBE certification but had become very busy and hadn’t responded to OMWBE’s request for information for several months.

“OMWBE does great work and I don’t want you to think responding wasn’t a priority for me,” she told Caleb. “What can I do to get the certification process started again?”

Caleb let her know that her application had been closed, but all she had to do was contact the analyst she was working with and provide the requested information to get back on track.

The business owner was relieved to learn she wouldn’t have to start her recertification from the beginning.

Certification renewals are much less complicated than the process for initial application and only require the business owner to submit a few simple documents and report any changes.

“The application may seem daunting, but it isn’t as hard as it looks. But if you do have issues, we are happy to work with you and answer any questions you have about the application. We’re here to help make things easier, so use us as a resource.”

If you need help, OMWBE is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Call us at (360) 664-9750 or toll free at (866) 208-1064 or send questions by email to technicalassistance@omwbe.wa.gov. We are also able to assist callers who may have limited English proficiency.

Linked Deposit Loan Program Helps Businesses Gain Capital

In 2019, the Linked Deposit Loan Program helped 264 firms access $128.7 million. This not only helped business owners gain access to capital, it also passed on savings of two percent in the form of an interest rate reduction. Access to the Linked Deposit Loan program is one of the benefits of being certified by OMWBE.

Qualifying loans include lines of credit, financing of accounts receivable, working capital, equipment purchases, real property acquisition and other business related financing.

You can find out more about the loan program and learn about many other financial resources on the OMWBE website.

OMWBE video tutorials can help solve problems

Video shot

OMWBE website is a treasure trove of resources. At a glance you can look for new bid opportunities, track training and networking events on our calendar and access tips and find links to business support offered by state and national organizations.

This month, check out our video tutorials. In November we added a webinar developed by the Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center on ways to market your business to government.

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