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Small-Business Owners Weigh In on WSSC Disparity Study

Darryle Brooks said small businesses trying to obtain contracts for various jobs with the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission must go through too much bureaucracy.

Danielle Gittens doesn’t mind competing against other small businesses to work with WSSC, but not against them and bigger companies.

They were among the more than a dozen consultants, small-business owners and minority firms who spoke Thursday morning at WSSC’s headquarters in Laurel, Maryland, about the organization’s disparity study. The report will look to assess whether merchants have done, attempted, or want to do work with the commission.

“I have gone to meeting after meeting after meeting and it is not changing. We can’t compete with these big companies because I don’t have the resume to compete,” said Gittens, owner of Brewington Management Co. of Hyattsville. “I’m hoping WSSC is going to do something to kind of change things … so we can actually compete.”

Officials with WSSC, which manages water distribution and sanitary sewer systems for its 1.8 million customers in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, will incorporate all verbal and written comments into the study.

The report will also focus on how many businesses conducted work with WSSC for the fiscal years 2010-2014 in the areas of construction, architectural and engineering, professional services, good and other services. The agency must also show how its Minority Business Enterprise program ensures all race-based businesses receive fair and competitive opportunities to work with the commission.

The agency hired MGT America of Tallahassee, Florida, to conduct the report, which isn’t scheduled for completion until April.

In order to become recognized by the commission, Brooks said his company needed to apply for a Small, Local, Minority, Business Enterprise certification currently awaiting approval. However, his company has similar documentation accepted by the MBE and the Maryland Department of Transportation.

“I don’t understand why a study is even required. The system requires another layer of bull,” said Brooks, president and CEO of CrossFire Business Solutions of Silver Spring. “It’s killing small businesses. It’s annoying and it keeps us down. [The system] needs to be fixed.”

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