A course worth PREPping for.

Author:McKanic, Arlene
Position:Brief Article

LaGuardia College provide stepping stones to contracts

The PREP or "Preparing for Profit" course, created by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, LaGuardia College, and PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1991, helps prepare small business owners, including women and especially minorities, sell products and services to government agencies and navigate the maze of red tape that inevitably follows.

For seven years Benjamin Hunt has been the program director of the course, which is held at LaGuardia Community College, a branch of the City University of New York. "It's a four-week workshop," Hunt says. "Four consecutive Saturdays. We usually conduct three workshops a year in April and June and then October or November. It was split up because after June it's hard to get people in class, so we let things go until late fall. The last class had 43 people, with class size averaging around 40 to 45 people."

During the daylong classes participants learn about certification--which is especially useful to women and minorities. They also learn about the MTA and other governmental agencies' procurement processes, accounting practices and procedures from PricewaterhouseCoopers, effective communication protocol with bureaucracy, putting together an effective proposal, and marketing techniques.

"At least eleven people have been awarded contracts of more that $1 million since they've taken the class," Hunt says. "In October 2000, we had a reception where we brought five new people into our Million Dollar Club," Hunt recalls.

Businesses whose owners have gone through the course include Rodney Evans, president and CEO of Skyline Connections, Leroy and Jennifer Jackson, owners of T&T Cleaning and Janitorial Services Inc., and Christopher Cole, executive VP of Coling Ambulette.

When the Jacksons took the course in 1994, they remember learning a whole new vocabulary that included terminology in marketing, taxes, accounting, certification, networking, government procurement, and doing business on the Internet. After completing the course, the Jacksons won a $58,000 contract to...

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