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Mentor-Protege Program Supports Minority and Women-Owned Businesses

DENVER, CO ­— Wednesday, July 22, 2015 — Within the construction industry, the pathway for minority and female subcontractors to mature into prime contractors can be challenging at best. The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) is launching a mentor-protégé program to build capacity among minority- and women-owned businesses within the construction and professional services industries.

“With a robust construction climate currently in Denver, now is the time to strengthen inclusivity throughout the industry,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “There’s an incredible bevy of talent and ‘lessons learned’ that business leaders can share with younger firms, and in doing so, help to reinforce a diverse economy here in Denver along with our next generation of successful minority- and women-owned firms.”

The M/WBE Mentor-Protégé Program will match successful, seasoned businesses with smaller, Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) to provide coaching on ways to compete more successfully for contracts in construction and related professional services. Protégés will receive coaching on public contract applications and contract performance, as well as a wide array of other business-management topics, from strategic planning to financial management and marketing.

The OED’s Division of Small Business Opportunity is currently recruiting both M/WBE protégé applicants as well as experienced businesses to serve as mentors. The program’s designers carefully beta-tested the application and matching process over the past year with a group of 12 MWBEs and 13 prime contractors, a number of whom have expressed an interest in being part of a formal match going forward.

Plans call for five mentor placements to be matched later this summer, with additional placements occurring in early 2016 and onward. Application information is available online at www.denvergov.org/dsbo.

M/WBE certifications are offered through the Division of Small Business Opportunity. The program helps connect businesses with construction and professional service contracts throughout the city and at DIA. There are a total of 744 M/WBE firms, and in 2014, 289 M/WBE firms earned $99.5 million through municipal construction and professional services projects. For more information on the OED’s business certification programs, visit www.denvergov.org/dsbo.