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Voter Outreach

Voter Outreach

Concepts, strategies and objectives to move voters to action

Written by Peter Grear Educate, Organize and Mobilize: Each week over the past several months I’ve written about various aspects of voter suppression with the purpose of explaining its concepts,…

Keatts A Keeper For New-Look Seahawks

Keatts A Keeper For New-Look Seahawks

New Head Men’s Basketball Coach was all smiles

New Head Men’s Basketball Coach was all smiles at Trask Coliseum. WILMINGTON, NC – Boldly proclaiming, “I’m a winner,” and promising “an exciting brand of basketball” newly-christened UNCW head men’s basketball coach Kevin Keatts said Tuesday that a new day in Seahawk basketball has arrived.

Lied-to Children More Likely to Cheat and Lie

Lied-to Children More Likely to Cheat and Lie

The study tested 186 children ages 3 to 7

The study tested 186 children ages 3 to 7 in a temptation-resistance paradigm. Approximately half of the children were lied to by an experimenter, who said there was “a huge bowl of candy in the next room” but quickly confessed this was just a ruse to get the child to come play a game. 

Unconscious Mind Can Detect a Liar When Conscious Mind Fails

Unconscious Mind Can Detect a Liar When Conscious Mind Fails

The unconscious mind could catch a liar

“We set out to test whether the unconscious mind could catch a liar – even when the conscious mind failed,” says ten Brinke. Along with Berkeley-Haas Assistant Professor Dana R. Carney, lead author ten Brinke and Dayna Stimson (BS 2013, Psychology), hypothesized that these seemingly paradoxical findings may be accounted for by unconscious mental processes.

Alliance of North Carolina Black Elected Officials: Educate, Organize, and Mobilize

Alliance of North Carolina Black Elected Officials: Educate, Organize, and Mobilize

North Carolina Alliance of Black Elected Officials

Written by Peter Grear, Esq.  Since August 2013 I've continued to ask myself "what would an effective campaign to defeat voter suppression look like?” Well, on Friday, February 14, 2014, Valentine's Day, I got my answer from Richard Hooker, President of the…

Download Greater Diversity News Digital PDF Edition for FREE

Download Greater Diversity News Digital PDF Edition for FREE

FREE Full PDF Edition includes stories not featured on the website

The FREE Full PDF Edition includes stories not featured on the website. No paper, no hasel, read on your laptop or mobile devices. 

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Getting Smart on Surety Bonds: African-American Female Business Owner in St. Louis Got Funded.

Written by Rhonda Taylor on 22 February 2012.

When I quit my job with the post office to start a building maintenance company that specialized in big public buildings, I knew I would have to be good. Better than the big companies that were already doing it. What I didn’t know almost killed my compnay: I needed bonding and working capital and was told it was impossible for me to get it because I was a new business and had no credit. But I found it. And I thought this information might be useful to other minority entrepreneurs.

There is nothing wrong with being dumb. That’s how all smart people start out.

In my case, I was dumb enough to quit a lifetime-guaranteed job with the government to start my own business.

I was dumb enough to think, as an African American woman, I could compete with huge corporations for government contracts. And I was dumb enough to think that once I got the job, I could do it well.

Like a lot of smaller contractors, I smartened up. Fast. Turns out I was smart enough after all.

But one thing that lots of business people never really smarten up about is getting a surety bond. To do a government job -- my first -- I needed a bond. Who knew?

Not the insurance companies. They told me I could not get a bond because my company did not have a good credit score. Turns out that surety bonds and completion bonds and other bonds are not really insurance. They are more like lines of credit.

Here’s why: If a contractor does not finish a job, the bonding company has to step in and make it right. Then the bonding company can turn around and pursue the original contractor for reimbursement.

If bonding companies think your credit is such that they cannot recover their losses, they will not issue a bond.

That is what happened to me -- 11 times. There was nothing wrong with my credit: My books were in order. Taxes paid. Vendors happy.  Clients too.

I just did not have enough of it to get a bond for a three year contract I had already won.

When I talked to other business people about bonding and working capital, they all said the same thing: Nothing we can do about it. That is just the way it is. 

“But wait a minute,” I asked:  “All that government stimulus money is supposed to help small businesses. And now you are telling me that most small businesses cannot do government work? That can’t be true.”

Most did not answer. They just shrugged their shoulders and walked away.

The agency with the work gave me an extension but it was not looking good.  With two days to go, my agent, Chondra Martin, told me she had a lead: A  bonding company that looked past credit scores and looked at your ability to do the work you were contracted to do. That seemed kind of smart.

Soon we were talking with Andrew Wohl at Ox Bonding.  He wanted to know about my company and its balance sheet and whether I had any tax liens or other problems. That was all good.

Then we started talking about the job and how I bid on it; why I bid the way I did (I went to the agency and got a copy of the contract from the last time it was up. So I knew what the number was and I told Andrew how I could do the job better, faster, cheaper.)

He got into my grill. And soon I got  a bond.

Next think you know the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is doing a story about how this small business owner overcame obstacles to win a job. That of course got me even more clients.

I didn’t know about that either.

Later I had a chance to talk to Robert Berman, co-founder of Ox Bonding and another smart guy. He told me that he started Ox Bonding because when he was a teenager, his father could not get a bond for a bigger government job.

They ignored all his great work. All his references. 

“There are so many good companies out there that do great work but who cannot get a bond,” Berman told me. “So we help them with a bond and with working capital. Because on government jobs, sometimes a lot of money goes out before any comes in.”

Berman is not a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor: He is not running a charity. 

Ox Bonding manages risk by having the agency issue our checks to them. They pay the workers and the vendors. 

“We can even negotiate better deals,” Berman told me. “We will call a vendor and say we can pay you in 30 days, as stated in the contract. Or we can pay you today if we get a discount. Most vendors are happy to negotiate.”

That is pretty smart. 

Being the smart person that I am, I detected a flaw in Berman's grand plan for dominating the world of bonding and working capital.

"Once your clients get a bond and do the work, won't that help them get the credit they need to get a bond from one of the big boys, like Zurich?"

"Smart question,” he said. I knew that.

"We do help our clients get better credit. But we also help them with working capital, payroll, and other services. So what we have found so far is that once contractors have been with us for a while, they want to do even more with us."

Even I’m smart enough to know that.