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Connect NC bond
BY TEVIN STINSON
That's how much the state will spend
in the Piedmont-Triad area alone on the
Connect NC bond project. Last week, the
Office of Historically Underutilized
Businesses (HUB) hosted a small business
and contractors forum to let entrepreneurs
in the area know how they can get a piece
of the pie worth more than $300 million.
Along with the job fair, the event held
inside the Donald J. Reaves Student
Activities Center on the campus of
Winston-Salem State University also fea
tured a panel discussion on how small and
minority business owners can get involved
with the estimated $2 billion bond project.
Approved by voters across the state.
Connect NC is an investment designed to
strengthen the state's education system,
parks and recreation, safety and water and
The projects listed in the bond will
impact 76 counties in the state.
At the local level, the bond will bring
needed improvements to the campuses of
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU),
Forsyth Technical Community College
(FTCC), and UNC School of the Arts.
According to a list of projects, WSSU will
receive new $50,000 science building,
while FTCC and the School of the Arts
will receive improvements estimated to
cost more than $5 million a piece.
During the panel discussion, HUB
Director Dennis M. English Jr. said, with
major construction on the horizon, area
contractor readiness is critical. English
said in many cases a lot of firms have
stepped back from pursuing state-funded
projects because there's too much paper
work, or simply because they did not
know how to bid on projects. He said,
"This forum is designed to take those wor
"Our main priority here today is to
engage with cabinet level agencies.
Through technical assistance and capacity
building support, we're here to help busi
nesses get where they need to be," English
"We want to create more leverage so
that minority and small business owners
don't feel like they're out here by them
The open panel, which featured also
general and residential contractors, repre
sentatives from state construction office
and the department of transportation, also
provided business owners with growth
strategies, and ways to identify new cus
tomers outside of the bond project.
Nesmith Construction operations
manager Maurice McNeal said one of the
things that works best in the general con
tracting industry is building relationships
with potential clients. McNeal encouraged
contractors to start off with smaller con
tracts to build working relationships. He
noted, most of the time when it comes to
the interview process, clients are goirtg to
select the people who they know.
"You may be able to come in as fresh
face and win a project but, 8 out of 10
times they are going to go with the people
they know and like," continued McNeal.
"Start with a small project, do a good job
and your quality of work will sell its self."
He also told business owners to go
after projects that are in their areas.
McNeal said he doesn't take jobs that are
more than a couple of hours drive. He said
when you have a small business you could
spend your whole day driving to one
meeting, which is a waste of time and
"It's tempting to take jobs in different
parts of the state but you have to focus on
one area." McNeal said.
Outside of construction, the state is
also seeking small businesses to help com
plete other aspects of the projects, includ
ing asphalt resurfacing, road widening.
concrete work and landscaping just to
name a few. N.C. Department of
Transportation (NCDOT) Project
Manager Brett Abemathy said contracts
for small business are limited to those esti
mated projects under $500,000.
Abemathy said although they are
smaller projects, one advantage is that
they do not require a general contracting
license. He said the NCDOT also offers
"as needed" contracts that can range
between $5,000 and $50,000.
After the forum, a number of small
business owners said they learned a lot
about the process of biding for state fund
ed projects. Tammy Watson, business
director for Tamco Construction Site
Management, a locally owned start-up
company that specializes in erosion con
trol, said after listening to the experts on
the panel she is more informed about how
to get her business off the ground.
"1 look at my number and I think the
things I've learned here today are going to
earn me millions," smiled Watson. "The
panel provided me with a lot of informa
tion to position my company well."
NC Department of Transportation project manager Brett Abernathy talks
about ways small business owners can bid for projects included in the
Connect NC bond project.
Police Department, Dash offer free movie
Salem Dash and the
Department are team
ing up for a free
Movie Night at BB&T
Ballpark on Saturday,
Gates open at 5
p.m. and the hit
Zootopia begins at
An animated film
that features the voices
of Jason Bateman,
Bonnie Hunt and
Zootopia follows the
journeys of a rabbit
police officer and a
red fox con artist, who
try to expose a con
spiracy regarding the
disappearance of vari
ous civilians in the
city of Zootopia.
"This is a great
opportunity for the
community and mem
bers of the police
department to come
together and improve
our relationship, while
enjoying a fun-filled
evening and a movie,"
said Chief Barry D.
Rountree of the
night at BB&T
Ballpark has been spe
cial, but this one
means even more,"
Dash President Geoff
Lassiter said. "We
invite the community
to take part in a great
evening of friendship
Prior to the start of
the movie, members
from various districts
of the Winston-Salem
will showcase their
police cars, motorcy
cles and bike patrol
bicycles, along with
their rescue and haz
ardous device vehi
Members of the K
9 unit will be on hand,
While admission is
free to the public.
attendees are encour
aged to make a dona
tion of cash, blankets
or canned goods to
support the Winston
Foundation, a non
to enhancing the
capacity of the
Department to be
more effective in
improving public safe
focuses on community
outreach, funding and
raising resources to
assist the Police
Department in making
Winston-Salem a safer
place to live, work and
enjoy life. More infor
mation on the organi
zation is available at
g, where a donation to
the Foundation also
can be made.
Parking is free of
charge, and conces
sion stands will be
open for fans to pur
chase food and bever
Admission in the
Kids Zone will also be
free, and the con
course will feature
several free carnival
games around the ball
weather hit the
on Oct. 22, the make
up date is Sunday, Oct.
23, with gates opening
at 4 p.m. and the
movie starting at 5:30
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