Grambling State University has partnered with the Small Business Administration (SBA), City of Ruston, Louisiana, Crossmark Financial Services, and the Zion Traveler Community Development Corporation to launch a Minority Contractor Institute.
The first of its kind, the initiative is part of the Real Change in Ruston Project that will build 20 new homes for first-time homebuyers on the old fairgrounds on the north side of Ruston. The City of Ruston made a commitment to utilize minority contractors to assist in the construction of the houses. In addition, contractors enrolled in the program will be prepared to participate in the rehabilitation of adjudicated properties throughout Lincoln Parish.
The Small Business Association will lead the classes that will include sessions on licensing requirements for contractors that include managing risks through insurance; access to bonding; bid, performance, and payment bonds available through SBA’s Surety Bond Guaranty Program; financial assistance (what’s important to the lender, developing the loan proposal, addressing credit requirements); proposal preparation; and project management.
Classes will be held in a hybrid format with online and in-person offerings at Grambling State and the Zion Traveler CDC.
“This is an excellent opportunity to get minority contractors involved in this building effort,” said Jo Ann Lawrence, Deputy District Director for SBA. “We commend the collaboration between the cities of Grambling and Ruston to come together to make this economic development and entrepreneurial development opportunity a reality for the contractors in their cities.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. SBA is honored to be a part of this development effort as we continue our mission of helping businesses participate in the free enterprise system of the United States and Louisiana. We pledge our best efforts to continue the work with Grambling State University, the cities of Grambling and Ruston, and the small business community in this area. We are here for you.”
“I feel humbled when other organizations step into a partnership role with Real Change in Ruston, and we are thankful and excited to be able to work with the Small Business Administration,” said Ruston City Planner John Waltz. “The dots are connecting, the table is growing, and the Lord is providing the opportunity for us to love our home even more.”
Pastor Maurice White of Zion Traveler Baptist Church noted, “it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize address who said, ‘There is nothing new about poverty. What is new, however, is that we have the resources to get rid of it.’ I am truly thankful for the Small Business Administration for partnering with the Zion Traveler Community Development Corporation by supporting our Minority Contractors Program as we seek to bring “Real Change in Ruston.”
“We understand that Grambling State University must play a role in the growth of the local economy; not only with the city of Grambling and Ruston but Lincoln Parish as well,” said Marc Newman, Vice President for Advancement, Research, and Economic Development at Grambling State. “From the hosting of national events like the NAIA National Championships and the minority contractor institute, Grambling State is taking the lead on economic development opportunities in the area. When you look at what our neighbors at Louisiana Tech are doing coupled with cyber and other initiatives at Grambling State, the area is ripe for economic growth.”
Recently, Grambling State submitted an application in partnership with Southern University, SU-Shreveport, and the city of Grambling hosted the first HBCU-led Minority Business Development Administration (MBDA) Center in the US.
The application has letters of support from Louisiana Economic Development, Louisiana Department of Insurance, and ExxonMobil. If awarded, it would be the only such network in Louisiana that provides a tool for federal contracting and would position Grambling State as the lead in north central/east Louisiana partnerships with small minority businesses.
Classes are slated to begin May 1 of this year. Interested contractors can sign up for the program at https://www.ziontravelercdc.com/minority-contractor-s-training-prog.