On May 4, 2017, Governor Hogan signed into legislation HB 319, which approved a name change for the Small, Local and Minority Business Enterprise (SLMBE) Office. As of June 1, 2017 the SLMBE Office shall be known as the Office of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion (OSDI or Supplier Diversity Office) .
WSSC’s Office of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion (“OSDI”) Office administers a two-tier MBE and SLBE Program that focuses on facilitating access to Prime and Subcontractor opportunities on WSSC-funded contracts. The MBE and SLBE Programs are fully complementary Programs that have narrowly-tailored preferences to support small local and minority businesses which include subcontracting opportunities, helping vendors and suppliers to make the leap from Subcontractor to Prime. The process of making the leap from Subcontractor to Prime comes with both risks and rewards that may lead to a firm developing its capabilities, capacity and access to higher limits of capital and/or credit to support the growth of its business. WSSC’s MBE and SLBE Programs invest resources in its MBE and SLBE firms to help them make the leap to “Prime Time” and sustain their competitive positioning. Since the inception of the MBE and SLBE Programs, WSSC’s Office of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion has assisted numerous small and diverse companies in obtaining prime and subcontracting opportunities in its four (4) broad contracting areas of Architecture and Engineering, Construction, Goods and General Services and Professional Services.
One such company is Rivers Construction Group, Ltd. In 2006, Luis Rivera started a construction company out of a basement office on Galt Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland. Ten years later, Rivers Construction Group employs 110 people in our market area, handles multi-million dollar jobs, and operates out of a large office on aptly named Prosperity Drive in Montgomery County.
Rivera says he owes much of his success to WSSC’s Office of Supplier Diversity & Inclusion, which first gave him the opportunity to bid on smaller jobs and prove his company’s capability through the SLBE Program. Rivers Construction Group was approved with WSSC’s SLBE Program in 2007 and has graduated from the SLBE Program. Rivers Construction Group is also a certified-MBE (Asian-American) firm with the Maryland Department of Transportation (“MDOT”).
“There were opportunities for jobs ranging from $0 to $50,000 for small businesses and it didn’t require us to have a bond,” Rivera says. “That’s when we decided to register and that’s when we really became active.”
“We were a Subcontractor for five or six years and had about five jobs per year when we started,” says Rivera. “They were small jobs, but they were all we needed.”
Currently, Rivers Construction Group is the Prime Contractor on several WSSC-funded contracts. Rivers demonstrates its commitment to the value and the spirit of the MBE and SLBE Programs by utilizing MBE and SLBE firms, as subcontractors, on their contracting opportunities with the Commission. Rivera says, “We’re now doing for other subcontractors and MBEs what someone did for us [when we first started].”
“Everyone thinks you’re not going to make it [as a small minority business],” says Rivera, “but if doors are opened at WSSC, that makes all the difference.