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Wanda ResizedWe recently caught up with Wanda Colon-D’Angelo, the Director of State Certification for OSD’s Supplier Diversity Office (SDO). Over the last nine months, Wanda’s department has welcomed several new staff members, brought in to support increasing interest in the state’s certification program. We asked Wanda to tell us about what entices businesses to apply for state certification and to discuss resources available to those wishing to pursue entry into the program.

Q: Why should businesses be interested in state certification?
A: State certification is a free program designed to give firms a leg up when doing business in Massachusetts. Our Directory of Certified Businesses provides information about companies in our program that is widely used by organizations, both public and private. These organizations are looking to meet their goals of working with diverse businesses. Statewide Contractors, for example, use the directory to meet their requirements to make measurable financial commitments with diverse businesses. Executive Departments have annual goals to spend a defined portion of their budget with these firms. Private institutions use this directory, as well, to diversify their supply chain.
Certified businesses use their designation as a marketing tool to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The SDO forwards invitations to our businesses to attend training and networking events. These offerings are designed to give certified firms resources and access to people who may help them identify business opportunities.

Q: How do businesses find out if they qualify?
A: The SDO website provides a wealth of information about the various categories of businesses that are eligible for state certification. The state also offers an easy-to-use self-assessment tool that asks a few questions and, based on the responses, suggests the certification programs business owners may want to consider. The tool is posted on our website and it takes a minute or two to complete the assessment.

Q: What steps should businesses take if they think they qualify?
A: As a first step, business owners should attend our Pre-Certification Workshop – this is a basic requirement for certification. We offer this two-hour class in convenient locations around the state. During the workshop, the OSD Training Unit and I review how the certification program works, required documentation, and next steps to apply for certification. Business owners may ask questions during and after the workshop and we also help interested businesses set up a free business profile in COMMBUYS, the state’s online marketplace where many Commonwealth bid opportunities are posted.

Q: Where should businesses go if they have questions?
A: They should visit our online resources and email us with questions.

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