UPDATED:  May 29, 2011 10:14 PM
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APA Entrepreneurs Participate in 'Give Me 5,' 'Growth' Events

Norfolk, Virginia-The region's Asian Pacific American (APA) entrepreneurs took part in events here and in Washington, D.C.-and learned how to be more competitive in winning federal contracts and how to expand their small business.

On May 9, APA men and women entrepreneurs joined some 500 attendees at the Washington Convention Center. American Express OPEN and SCORE's "Small Business High Speed Growth" was an all-day free event, part of a five-city tour to "help your business generate more business."

In this area, women business owners were among some 150 participants in "Give Me 5" event on May 16. American Express OPEN and Women Impacting Public Policy were co-sponsors.

Launched in 2008, "Give Me 5" (www.giveme5.com) is designed to educate women business owners on how to apply for, and secure, federal procurement opportunities. Thanks to the Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program, which went into effect on February 4, women business owners have a greater chance to win government contracts. There are roughly $27 billion in contracts set aside specifically for women business owners and as many as 684,000 women-owned businesses could potentially benefit from the program. (Male-owned businesses can take part by partnering with women-owned firms.)

The May 16 event helped business owners learn how to benefit from the SBA's WOSB Program. Speakers explained the WOSB Program, and how teaming and subcontracting can help business owners bid on larger contracts. According to a 2010 American Express OPEN survey of small business contractors, business owners who employ teaming or subcontracting strategies win 50% more contracts. Business owners can find potential teaming partners across industries and geographies by registering on TeamingUSA.com.

Doņa Storey was moderator of a panel on Teaming Opportunities for WOSBs. Her panelists included American Express OPEN Advisor on Teaming Denise Rodriquez Lopez, small business owner Patti Hamilton, Jack Beecher from the Army Corps, and Attorney Brad Reaves from Kaufman Canoles.

Ms. Storey is the president and CEO of quality Technical Services, Inc. (QTS), a woman-owned SDB and President of new venture, GOVtips LLC. She has over 30 years of experience as a management consultant, providing expertise in the launching and growing of firms looking to enter into business with the federal government. She also started GOVtips.biz, an online guide to success in federal procurement. She wrote "Doing Business with the World's Biggest Customer, " the GOVtips.biz book series.

For the past 18 years, she has played an active role in impacting public policy at both state and national levels. She has been appointed or elected to board and other positions in state and federal government, education and small business associations.

As the 2007 national Co-Chair of the Procurement Committee for Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), she assisted it in finding and making the most of available opportunities. She has made numerous recommendations affecting the revision of federal regulations. She has provided testimony for congressional commissions. In May 2009, she testified before the House

Small Business Committee. A popular speaker, she has served on several government panels.

"Give Me 5" speakers included U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell (2nd District, Virginia); Jeff Brunner, Contract and Acquisition Management Officer of the U.S. Joint Forces Command; Jack Beecher, Chief of the Small Business Programs Office, Norfolk District, Army Corps of Engineer; and Ms. Rodriguez-Lopez.

'Speed Growth'

"Attending Small Business High Speed Growth in D.C. is worth it," said Ole Hongvanthong. "They're connecting us with a variety of people today, contacts we don't usually meet at other events," Ole owns Ole (Ole@PhotOlePhotography.com) with wife Heidi. The couple employs three other photographers.

Ole and other participants attended 45-minute and one-on-one counseling, networking and workshops. Other simultaneous events had experts speaking on the use of social media (Facebook, Twitter) and online marketing, among other things.

Ole's view was echoed by events planner consultant Mie Mie Joe Strickler, who drove all the way from Delaware. Ms. Strickler started her company (www.mjs-consultants.com), after a successful career, wanting to be her own boss.

Sheldon Chung, president of Amerihome Lending Inc., www.amerihomelending.com) in Maryland, joined a group interview. He asked Ole for his card, saying, "I'm getting married this year," prompting Mie Mie to hand him his card, too. Sheldon employs a staff and three other loan officers. He started his business in 2007, "because I wanted to educate clients in making a well-informed decision."

Also onsite, Maryland entrepreneur Josie Mosqueda Thompson of Josie Thompson Design, (www.josiedesigns.com) traded business cards with other entrepreneurs. Sara Kim, managing partner of Capstone Vantage, an international consulting firm in D.C., networked with a magazine executive.

Fifth Year

Karen-Michelle Mirko, American Express OPEN director of Customer Advocacy Marketing, said the "Speed Growth" business series was in its fifth year. Small business owners are survivors, she said, "having held on through uncertain economic times and are now ready to grow and expand their business."

American Express Open also held a business strategy session aimed at women entrepreneurs in Virginia Beach last month. Ms. Mirko said a report on women entrepreneurs can be viewed at www.openforum.com.

SCORE CEO Ken Yancey said his group is a partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in counseling entrepreneurs nationwide. He urged "successful Asian American business owners and executives to join" SCORE's thousands of coach and mentor volunteers.

At the luncheon program, Ana M. Ma, U.S. SBA chief of staff, thanked American Express and SCORE, which guides people on "what kind of business to start, or what the next steps are." SCORE also started online counseling in1997. It has 350 offices nationwide, providing entrepreneur education to small business.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, soon to be ambassador to China, recently stressed the role of small businesses in the nation's recovery, calling the job generators "the very engines that grow our economy."

He noted there are over one million Asian American and Pacific Islander-owned firms in country, "generating well over $300 billon dollars in sales," and employing 2.8 million, or half of all workers at minority firms.

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