Duke Energy & FSBDC Partner for Small Business Construction Management Academy


CLEARWATER — In today’s economy where construction is on the rise, the need for quality construction-related firms is greater than ever. Duke Energy and the Florida Small Business Development Center (FSBDC) at Pinellas County teamed up to present the 2015 Construction Management Academy Jan. 27-29 and Feb. 3-5 at the EpiCenter in Clearwater. This joint venture attracted local and regional minority firms from every aspect of construction.

Duke Energy Academy, communityThe inaugural event came about as Duke Energy felt that the FSBDC had the expertise to provide the right kind of education to help diverse subcontractors support construction projects.

Alex Glenn, President of Duke’s Florida Operations, told The Weekly Challenger, “Construction opportunities are on the rise with Duke Energy, and in general, but many small businesses struggle with the topics being addressed. This education will allow them to be more technically and commercially savvy.

“We are very committed, not only to diversity through our contractors but throughout our entire employee base. It makes us better, with people of diverse skills and backgrounds. In just our Delivery Operations group that runs all our linemen, bucket trucks – our ‘boots on the ground’ — we have key African-American executives.

“We also have a real commitment to diversity with from whom we procure a variety of goods and services. We’re very proud that in 2014 alone we spent $500 million directly with diverse contactors. Of that total, $200 million was with minority-owned firms.  We work with our prime contractors to ensure that they have a similar commitment to economic development through inclusion.”

Dr. Cynthia Johnson, Center Director, FSBDC, commended the business owners for spending their valuable time gaining information on resources and opportunity that could aid them in growing and sustaining their business. She thanked Duke Energy for investing in this joint venture and was confident the information gleaned from the presentation would strengthen their business practices.
She told attendees, “Through this expanded partnership we were able to offer you industry insight from leaders in the field, a business-to-business networking opportunity and 20 knowledge-packed workshops valued at $500. However, the success of our Academy would not be possible without the entire FSBDC team, Duke Energy and the expertise, support and commitment from all of our partners.”

Among the African American owned firms represented were Essential Rating LLC, Charles Young Sr. and Jr. of Young and Sons Tax Advisors (Accounting/Tax Practices), Thomas Huggins III of Ariel Business Group (Everything You Wanted to Know About the RFP Content but Afraid to Ask), OT Delancy of Pinnacle CSG (Construction Technology & Tools), James Graham of Horus Construction General Contractor, MBE and Ada McFarley of Never Late Cleaning, MBE, both on the Procurement Process: How to Identify Opportunities Networking Panel.

Goal of the six-session seminar was to provide comprehensive insight into managing and growing a construction business. The program examined the skill sets required of existing and emerging construction professionals to handle large-budget projects and other major construction management requirements. Sessions also discussed the potential challenges and solutions associated with such endeavors.

Duke ‘s April Harley presented on Safety and Compliance Feb. 4 and Harley and Eric Rathburn participated in a networking panel Feb. 5 on how to market one’s business to a company like Duke Energy.

Among grateful Academy attendees was Demensio Barton from Orlando-based Essential Rating LLC, a Sustainable General Contracting company, who drove over to Clearwater every day. He told the Challenger,  “Our family, Demensio, Dolores, and Isaac-Joshua, send our warmest thanks to Duke Energy and everyone at the Florida FSBDC in Pinellas County for hosting the 2015 Construction Management Academy. The presenters covered everything from safety to finances to opportunities, with a big emphasis on safety.

“The presentation built up over the six-session period with a climactic finale featuring Duke Energy’s Harley and Rathburn, who both showed a lot of heart and genuine enthusiasm for helping the attendees succeed. I recommend any and all small businesses to take full advantage of the next event; it is well worth the time spent attending it.”

The Florida Small Business Development Center at Pinellas County Economic Development in Clearwater provides a variety of vital services at no cost to local business owners.

These services include Business Growth Consulting; Business and Marketing Plan Templates & Tools; Business Health Checks; Topic-Specific Business Resources; Market & Industry Research, Financial Technical Assistance and other resources.

Among FSBDC’s Connections For Expansion are Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Programs; Workforce Development Programs through a partnership with CareerSourcePinellas; Business Technology Commercialization (BTC) Programs; Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Award Program; and Procurement & Technical Assistance that helps businesses with the process of obtaining contracts with federal organizations like the U.S. Department of Defense, military branches, and other federal agencies, as well as participating prime contractors.

For more information, contact April Harley, Supplier Diversity Specialist, Duke Energy: April.Harley@duke-energy.com or 727-820-5563; and Dr. Cynthia Johnson, Center Director FSBDC, businesshelp@pinellascounty.org  or 727-453-7200.

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