Making an Effort and Moving Forward with Small Businesses
By: Vernell Silva
As a historically Black University and a member of multiple Chamber of Commerce(s), Texas Southern University’s (TSU) Historically Underutilized Businesses Program, i.e. HUB is aware of their duty to the community. HUB is a minority or woman-owned Texas business that must meet a criteria to be certified. TSU accepts HUB certifications from agencies such as The City of Austin, Houston Minority Supplier Development Council, and Women’s Business Enterprise Alliance to name a few.
Many minority businesses stress the lack of opportunity given to receive contracts in fairness with big competitors. TSU’s HUB Program concentrates on producing more effective small business participation relating to the University’s contracting and procurement opportunities. The Program utilizes the Central Masters Bidder List (CMBL) to inform relative companies on the specific commodity codes for each bid and as a state entity they are required to advertise any solicitation over $25,000 on the Electronic State Business Daily (ESBD) website. In addition, the program posts all bids over $25,000 on the University’s website. By doing so they are alleviating unfairness among competitors unless subject to a bidding exemption.
In partnership with TSU, the HUB Program educates the University about their process, guidelines and procedures by participating in multiple mentoring programs such as small business forums and supplier diversity events. As Senior Buyer and HUB Coordinator, Kisten Rhodes, takes her leadership role seriously by meeting an array of daily demands. Her duties entail: working with buyers, end users, prime contractors, purchasing department, and the University’s body. In addition, she conducts audit reviews, assist vendors in the certification process as well as reporting activities associated with procurement for internal purposes or for submission to external uses with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
Rhodes also tracks updates to supplier files and developing/maintaining the data base for HUB spending with the procurement-card program. Her multiple services as an executive to the program coincides with the following mission statement she instilled, “Our outreach initiative includes attending state and Local HUB events, hosting HUB Vendor Fair’s on campus, attending local Chamber of Commerce(s) and welcoming Lunch and Learn events on campus.” The program’s efforts and strive for excellence has earned multiple accolades. In 2016, TSU ranked #12 of all state agencies with a total spend of at least $5,000,000. Also, TSU ranked #16 among the state agencies in 2013. The Program has consistently ranked among the top 50 of state agencies with the most HUB participation and with a goal to be ranked amongst the top three (3) in the nation they show no sign of slowing down.
The HUB Program’s specific goal is to increase procurement and opportunities. TSU makes an effort to assist HUBs by receiving a portion of the total yearly expenditures. Procurement expenditure goals by the Texas Government Code consist of 11.2% heavy construction, 21.1% building construction, 32.9% special trade construction, 23.7% professional services, 26% other services and 21.1% commodities. TSU prides on transparency in all business dealings and their ethic code ensures their good will.
Moving forward, the HUB program at TSU will continue to provide highly qualitative service to the students, staff, faculty, and external customers. Under the leadership of Mr. Gregory Williams, Executive Director of Procurement Services, the members of the Purchasing Division all make the program successful and there will always be considerate services to all internal and external customers. Mr. Thomas Britt, Director of Materials Management, Mr. Sceffers Ward, Buyer, Mrs. Felicia Garrett, Procurement Services Department Administrator along with Ms. Rhodes cohesively work to achieve TSU’s mission, vision and the accomplishment of the HUB Program. The Purchasing Division is formulating a strategic plan to enhance specific efforts towards the success of HUBs and TSU and as the University continues to expand more opportunities will become available for HUBs and small business partnerships.
HUB certification is beneficial to minority businesses by crediting such business expenditures and the state of Texas. Ultimately, the City of Houston economically prospers from such joint ventures and TSU’s Historically Underutilized Businesses Program is the leading effort in support of minority owned or small businesses prosperity.