Each year, during Charlotte's Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week, awards are given to minority firms in various categories, including Construction, General Services, Professional Services, Supply and Manufacturing, and Diversity Advocacy, who provide excellent service throughout the year. During this year's Charlotte MED Week awards luncheon, Central Piedmont Community College was honored as the Workforce Development Community Partner of the Year.
This distinguished award is evidenced by the ongoing efforts and collaboration of Central Piedmont's Small Business Center and Procurement Services teams. The Small Business Center (SBC) is an anchor for the business community, with 340 business clients counseled and 1,300 counseling hours offered in 2021-22. Aside from counseling and workshops, the center offers free small and medium conference rooms and a large classroom as a small business resource.
The Small Business Center also offers "Equity in Contracting." An initiative providing targeted assistance to help small businesses compete to win government contracts and emphasizing diversity to create a more equitable environment. As part of the program, underrepresented businesses are helped to become more familiar with government contracting processes and certifications. Specialized 1-on-1 counseling is provided in a guided 12-week session designed to assess business readiness and receive back-office assistance, including accounting, human resources, legal assistance, marketing, and technology. Some 150 businesses have participated in the program.
The SBC also offers the "Business LaunchPad" program in partnership with Mecklenburg County's Office of Economic Development to enhance minority- and women-owned small business participation in government contracting opportunities. Launched in fall 2021, Business LaunchPad is an exclusive, no-cost, 16-week program that includes classroom instruction, subject matter experts, guest speakers, practical exercises, and participation in "real-world' workshops and events.
The MED Workforce Development Community Partner of the Year award is currently on display in the Small Business Center and affords open discussions with community clients who enter the SBC offices to learn about the impact of the Small Business Center within the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.