Mission: The Office of Business Opportunities (OBO) is committed to supporting initiatives that benefit small, minority, and women owned businesses located in, or that want to do business with, the City of Columbia.  This is accomplished by providing creative financing and funding, technical assistance, and the City’s utilization of local, minority, and women owned businesses to ensure that our funds contribute to the economic growth of all communities.

Commercial Lending & Façade Improvement Program:  Provides financial assistance to start-up and existing businesses for expansion, creation and retention of jobs and assistance in the redevelopment of commercial corridors within the City of Columbia. Our Façade Improvement Program aims to improve the appearance of businesses along the corridors throughout the city that are significantly deteriorated.

Technical Assistance, Education & Advocacy:  Provides business development assistance and courses for start-ups and existing businesses looking to expand and grow on various topics including:  marketing, use of social media, business plan development, finances, legal issues, and more.

Contractor & Supplier Diversity:  Provides training and support for city initiatives designed to increase local contractor’s capacity to compete for government contracts and other procurement opportunities.  We are also responsible for the implementation of the City’s Disparity Study Goals and Objectives.  Programs include: Sub-Contractor Outreach; Mentor Protégé; Local Business Enterprise; Columbia Disadvantage Business Enterprise; and Construction Management Training.

City of Columbia's 6th Annual
Small Business Week Conference

EVENT DATE:  Thursday, May 3, 2018   EVENT SOLD OUT

Leading the Change: Assets, Options, and Opportunities

Small Business Week is a national movement started by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to honor America’s entrepreneurs. The City of Columbia is fully committed to supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses. Through the City of Columbia’s Small Business Week Conference, the Office of Business Opportunities highlights the impact of the city’s outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

This conference promises to be a unique opportunity to network with small, medium, and large business owners throughout the midlands, city and county officials, and an awesome line-up of presenters with a wealth of information for every business owner, from the “aspiring” entrepreneur to the “mature” business owner that has proven that it can stand the tests of time.  This year we are focusing on moving small businesses from sustainability to profitability. 

Registration Closed - EVENT SOLD OUT

City Held Third Minority Business Opportunity Conference

Minority Business Opportunity Conference 2018:  Wednesday, April 4, 2018

On Wednesday, April 4, the City of Columbia’s Office of Business Opportunities held its third Minority Business Opportunity Conference (Minority BOC) at the Venue on Main. Minority business owners had the opportunity to learn about City efforts to grow the number of companies that they make routine and emergency purchases from. Participants heard from City leaders, learned about the City’s procurement procedures & special programs, and met with City department staff that make purchasing decisions.

Melissa Lindler, Office of Business Opportunities director said, “The purpose of the Minority BOC was to support our Diversity Strategy by providing small businesses and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) with an opportunity to introduce their various products and services while directly interacting with City departments and key purchasing officials to learn more about the City’s procurement process.”
During the Minority BOC, 15 City departments met with over 75 local minority business owners. These owners were able to learn what each City department needed and then discuss products and/or services they are able to provide.

Utilities & Engineering, Public Works, Information Technology, Parks and Recreation and Public Relations were some of the departments in attendance. The services that local businesses offered varied greatly and some of those categories were janitorial services, advertising/marketing, construction, printing, environmental testing, landscaping, consulting, training and catering.
Participants were also given resource guides and other helpful information on available programs/resources that are accessible to them through the Office of Business Opportunities.

The Minority Business Opportunity Conference relates to the City Council’s Envision Columbia Vision Statement focus areas and goals:
•Focus area #1: Attracting & Retaining Talent
•Focus area #5: Economic Prosperity Endless Possibilities
•Focus area #7: Leading the Way in Innovative & High Quality Municipal Services

•Goal #1: Grow opportunities for entrepreneurship, business development and a skilled workforce to achieve a healthy economy.
•Goal #4: Collaborate and partner with entities within the Midlands region to become the state’s prime destination for residents, visitors and
•Goal #5: Provide high quality municipal services, efficiently, effectively and responsively.  

For more information, please contact the Office of Business Opportunities at (803) 545-3950.

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Contractors!  Apply NOW for Columbia Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (CDBE) Status

Is your business:
1)  Located within the Columbia-Orangeburg-Newberry Combined Statistical Area (CSA)
2)  A Certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

Below are the City's CDBE Policy and Program Guidelines.  Please take a look and contact us to begin your qualifying process.

Columbia Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Utilization Policy
Commercial Non-Discrimination and Columbia Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (CDBE) Utilization Policy
Columbia Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (CDBE) Program Guidelines

That's all it takes to qualify for CDBE Status - it's that simple!  LET'S GET STARTED 

Photographs by Stuart Miles and chainat; Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net