HARRISONBURG — The Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity will host a free information and networking session at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington on Wednesday.

The event will include various “breakout sessions,” where guests will learn various skills such as social media outreach and effective marketing practices.

“The main thing is to meet business people both geographically and in terms of their capability, where they are,” said Courtney Mustin, business services manager for the central Virginia region of the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity.

Many universities across the state, including VMI, James Madison University, Virginia Tech, and Mary Washington, have hired contractors to build large expansions to their campuses, Mustin said.

“In this particular conference, we’re targeting construction subcontractors, because many of the big prime contractors in Virginia have some very extensive projects at the colleges,” she said.

And those contractors are held to standards that they must hire a certain number of subcontractors that are registered as SWaM businesses, Mustin said.

The Small, Women-owned, and Minority-owned certification is a free designation given to businesses that meet certain criteria. A small business must have less than 250 employees and no more than $10 million in annual gross receipts to file for SWaM. Minority- or woman-owned businesses must have a minority or a woman own 51% of the company to be eligible for the certification.

There is also micro and service disabled veteran designations, according to Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity website.

“Prime contractors have a requirement for any contracts over $100,000 to have some sort of SWaM company certified participation,” she said.

The annual event, which is held across the five regions in the state, features guest speakers, breakout sessions, and roundtable discussions to help connect with businesses to give them an opportunity in state-funded projects.

“One of the reasons we’re doing this to promote good healthy relationships between primes and subcontractors,” Mustin said.

Advance registration for the event is required and guests can register at https://supplierediversitysymposium.eventbrite.com.

Contact Ian Munro at 574-6278 or imunro@dnronline.com. Follow Ian on Twitter @IanMunroDNR

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