Special Certification Possible Gateway to New Business

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- – Whatever the line of work may be, owning your own business is a challenge. It can mean taking a lot of risks: putting up your own money, working long hours, and being responsible for generating revenue, solving problems, and day-to-day operations.

Being a woman or a minority business owner adds another challenge. Just ask Melody Winer, who recently acquired majority ownership of Bradley Hook-It-Up Mobile, LLC.

"Typically, this type of business is done by men, it's handled by men, the contracts are with men. So yeah, to be able to come in and say that I have the knowledge to the do the kind of work that we do, I find that to be a little bit challenging."

Winer's business is a pressure washing company that cleans homes, parking structures, and fleet vehicles. She attended a recent class hosted by Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, where they learned that there are government agencies and corporations that not only want to do business with women and minorities, but seek them out through certifying organizations.

"Often times if a corporation is trying to identify, and they have a goal within their organization to work with women, minorities, other disadvantaged businesses, this is a way to take advantage of meeting those organizations," says Dr. Rea Waldon, Executive Director of the Ohio River Valley Women's Business Council. Her group works with hundreds of companies in Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia to verify that they are in fact owned by women.

The city of Lexington uses the Women's Business Council along with the Tri-State Minority Supplier Development Council, the Small Business Administration, and other certifying agencies.

Marilyn Clark, the city's Minority Business Enterprise Liaison, says roughly 2500 of the eight thousand businesses in the city's database claim to be owned by women or minorities. Clark says with certification, hiring officials can be sure.

"We are not saying that if you don't have certification we're not going to do business with you. I think the certification is so that when we are asked for a list of minority and women-owned businesses, that we are going to go to that certified list because we can verify that."

Depending on the organization, certification for women and minority owned businesses can be free, or cost several hundred dollars a year. But Marilyn Clark says it was worth it for her business.

"I am certified through one of the agencies, and it doesn't guarantee that you're going to get business, but it definitely helps you grow and develop your business along the way."

Upcoming certification classes hosted by LFUCG:

  • Tuesday, July 27, 9-11 a.m., (Kentucky Transportation Cabinet), Government Center, 200 East Main Street, Room B109
  • Thursday, July 29, 4-6 p.m., (Tri-State Minority Supplier Diversity Council), Government Center, 200 East Main Street, Room B109
  • Thursday, Aug. 12, 4-6 p.m. (Tri-State Minority Supplier Diversity Council), Village Branch Library, 2185 Versailles Road
  • To register or to learn more about certification, contact Marilyn Clark at 859-258-3323 or 859-258-3320 or email her at mclark@lexingtonky.gov.