Local small businesses owned by women, minorities and veterans are going to have opportunities for skills-training and project-management certification, courtesy of a business that is anything but small.

A $63,775 grant from Boeing to Trident Technical College is going to fund the program, which will start in 2013. In addition, the grant has sparked a partnership between Trident and the South Carolina Women's Business Center to further target women-owned businesses.

“The more different resources that are out there, the more we'll be able to help the community help these entrepreneurs have a really strong start,” said Christie MacConnell, director of the South Carolina Women's Business Center.

Certification required

Government contractors often require or request project-management certification. That's something that's hard to come by and potentially expensive, said Debby Marindin, director of continuing education and economic development for the college.

For instance, when the city of Charleston wanted contracts for the renovation at the Gaillard Auditorium, it specifically looked for small businesses owned by women and minorities, said Amanda Hollinger, director of sponsored projects at Trident Tech.

But those businesses needed to come with certification. Trident had heard from businesses before about this gap.

The grant will be used by Trident to develop a small-business skills program, which will strengthen the capacity of the targeted small businesses in terms of business knowledge and skills development, Hollinger said.

Certification will be through the Project Management Institute. Trident will be a Registered Education Provider. That's important because there are currently no other such providers in Charleston County.

MacConnell said that although a smaller percentage of the women she works with would need project-management skills, many could benefit from the small-business skills.

“A lot of people want to start a business in today's economy and they've got the passion and some of the knowledge, but not necessarily the business side of the knowledge,” MacConnell said.

Seeking qualified applicants

The college is working on developing an application process so it can make sure the people who want to enroll get into the right program. Things could be up and running as soon as February. The grant will fund a year of programming, but Trident has made the commitment to continue to fund up to two slots per session for five years to ensure that the program can continue.

The goal is to enroll 12 people for the two prerequisite courses, recognizing that not everyone may want or need to go through and complete the project-management certification.

For the other track, the general-skills courses, finance and other business-related courses, they hope to expand to about 10 courses in the next six months.

“We're hoping to make a pretty big impact on the area,” Hollinger said.

Trident and Boeing already do that, separately and in partnership. This is another example of two entities working together to meet a need.

For more information about the program at Trident Tech, contact Debby Marindin at 843-574-6658. For more information about the South Carolina Women's Business Center, call 843-763-7333.

Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565.