By Victor Ocasio
Rosemary Giuliano, owner of Jericho-based Servall Systems Inc., said she was able to take advantage of some lucky breaks after launching her business in 1988.
But one of the most beneficial moves she made came in 1994, when she got a Women’s Business Enterprise certification for her boiler repair business.
“You are made aware of more bids coming out,” said Giuliano, who has had success in landing government contracts with schools on Long Island and in the five boroughs ever since. “There are definitely opportunities out there.”
The WBE designation serves as a way to extend economic opportunity to businesses seeking government contracts. Certification is also offered to minorities and the disadvantaged.
Although the certification is easier to obtain now than it was in the ’90s thanks in part to the state’s push to increase the number of contracts awarded to certified firms — which went from 9 percent of all contracts to just over 20 percent in 2013 — the process can still be confusing.
One local effort is hoping to reduce that confusion.
Gold Coast Bank is sponsoring “What Women Need to Know,” a free workshop to help business owners apply for their WBE certification. Representatives from Empire State Development will be on hand to lead attendees through the application process Tuesday from 8 to 10:30 a.m. at the Hamlet Golf & Country Club in Commack.
Kathy Zadrozny, co-owner and vice president of ZCI Woodworks, an Islandia manufacturer of architectural cabinetry, plans to attend.
“I became intimidated by the paperwork process to become certified,” Zadrozny said. “It’s something that’s been sitting on my desk for over a year and a half.”
Going after government bids is something her company has yet to do, but the certification will provide her with new opportunities, she said. “I’m looking for tools and connections so I can work with the government.”
Among the possible opportunities available to Zadrozny and other female business owners is the contracted work needed to develop Babylon’s Wyandanch area.
Since 2011, the Town of Babylon has received local, state and federal agency grants to cover the cost of Wyandanch’s revitalization, including $3.8 million from Empire State Development for the building of a new public plaza.
“As part of the conditions of the grant funding, we have specific MBE and WBE percentage goals that we are attempting to meet,” said Jonathan Keyes, director of downtown revitalization for Babylon.
The percentage of work needed to be done by minority and women-owned businesses varies from project to project, from around 12 percent to 34 percent. Keyes expects the bids to go out in the coming weeks and hopes to meet the state’s MWBE requirements fully.
Good-faith efforts like the upcoming “What Women Need to Know” program serve as a great aid to both the business community and the needs of his area, he said.