By Annise Parker
A great city is many things. And it starts with opportunity. My economic philosophy is simple: I don’t believe in trickle down, I believe in building up.
To that end, I am proud about two announcements that can help small businesses. The first is the launch of a new citywide online platform to help Houstonians find jobs and help employers quickly find qualified applicants to fill openings. “Tweetmyjobs Houston” uses innovative technology to combine the popularity of social media and the convenience of a smart phone application. The free service already has more than 150,000 Houston job postings from entry level to senior level corporate positions.
Houston is the biggest economic success story in America, but the best can always get better. This free and user-friendly online tool is the new way to find a job and hire in Houston. It will greatly simplify the hiring process, providing any employer, regardless of size, with the same fast and free access to the best and brightest recruits available. Likewise, job seekers will have instant and direct access to thousands of jobs via Facebook, Twitter, email or their mobile phone. It’s possible to walk down the street and view on your smart phone all the jobs available in your immediate proximity. This is truly a game-changer for Houston.
Tweetmyjobs Houston is available at www.houston.tweetmyjobs.com or in the application store for your mobile device. Just push a button to find jobs or to post a job listing to every corner of the digital landscape. The unique integration with Twitter and Facebook allows job seekers to receive job notifications via text message, email or through social media. It’s also possible to see if Facebook friends are connected with the hiring company.
The online platform will allow the city to track the number of residents pursuing job opportunities, the type of positions being sought, the level of position and the industries in which job seekers want to work. It will also be able to show the number of jobs employers are posting over time as well as the type, industry and location of available opportunities.
Tweet My Jobs, Houston is being funded through a $350,000 grant from the Houston Housing Finance Corporation. It will be administered by the City’s Office of Business Opportunity.
Expanded Minority/Women Contracting Program
Houston City Council has approved enhancements to the City’s 30-year old goal-oriented Minority/Women-owned/Small Business Enterprise (MWSBE) contracting program. Due to council’s action, women-owned businesses will be reinstated to the program, the citywide goal for construction contracts will increase from 14 percent to 34 percent and the participation requirements for disabled veterans will be relaxed. The changes are the end result of a new study comparing the number of MWSBE firms utilized on city contracts to the number of companies available in the marketplace.
The Houston business environment is as diverse as its population. It is only fair that participation in city contracting opportunities reflect this diversity. These changes, which have wide support in the contracting community, will help ensure that historically underutilized small, minority and women-owned companies will get a fair chance to compete for city construction work.
The City of Houston implemented its MWSBE program in 1984. It remained largely unchanged until 2009 when a lawsuit required the removal and replacement of women owned businesses with small Business Enterprises until a comprehensive construction industry disparity study could be performed. The results of the study completed in April 2012 indicated a need for doubling of the citywide MWSBE construction contracts goal.
In addition to the reinstatement of women owned firms and the higher goal for construction contracts, OBO is implementing the following procedures to enhance the program’s effectiveness:
- Review the MWSBE Program every five years
- Expand the geographic boundaries to include two new counties: San Jacinto and Austin Counties
- Revise the Good Faith Efforts Policy
- Require contractors to submit their plans for meeting the Good Faith Efforts at the time of bid submission
- Implement a three-year MWSBE certification
- Standardize department accountability for monitoring of contract compliance and goal waivers
- Utilize the Disabled Veterans definition of the Department of Defense or Veteran Affairs when considering disabled veterans for inclusion in the Persons with Disabilities Business Enterprise portion of the program.
Only certified MWSBE firms are eligible to fulfill goal requirements on city contracts. City of Houston Certification is also accepted by the following agencies:
- Port of Houston Authority
- HoustonIndependentSchool District
- HoustonCommunity College
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Houston Housing Authority
- Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
- Texas Department of Transportation
- Airport Transportation Agencies Statewide
Visit http://www.houstontx.gov/obo/certification.html for more information on certification.