Advice for Firms Owned by Minorities, Women

If minority- and women-owned businesses are not certified as such, they could be missing out on opportunities to participate in lucrative public and private contracts, said Diane Castano Sallee, who helps certified businesses find work for the city of Los Angeles.

Sallee plans to bring that message to a panel discussion on resources for minority businesses at the upcoming Small Business Strategies Conference, sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

Sallee oversees the city’s Minority Business Opportunities Committee, which maintains a database of 10,000 minority- and women-owned businesses certified by the city Department of Public Works and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Both agencies screen applicants to verify that their businesses are more than half woman- or minority-owned.

“If you’re not in that system, you’re not getting the assistance we can provide,” Sallee said. “You’re limiting your opportunities.”


Sallee’s panel discussion, scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. Oct. 17, will also focus on start-up assistance, training and initial funding opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses.

The talk is one of more than 40 speeches, panel discussions and workshops scheduled for the two-day event, designed to help small businesses succeed. The conference will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center and will include events on topics such as financing, growth planning, technology and marketing.

Registration is $99 for both days and $70 for one day. For more information, call (800) 350-3211 or visit the conference Web site at

Questions Sought for Conference Speakers


Submit your business questions and they could be answered by keynote speakers at the Los Angeles Times’ Small Business Strategies Conference next month.

Saturday’s keynote speakers and their topics are:

* Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea on how to balance your life with activities other than work.

* Business consultant Jack Trout on the need for simple business strategies in an increasingly complicated world.

* Black Enterprise magazine publisher Earl Graves on business success in the next century, risk-taking and mastering new technology.

Sunday’s speakers and their topics are:

* Educational software company owner Jan Davidson on how she took $6,000 and turned it into a business worth $1.5 billion.

* Nell Newman and Peter Meehan, co-founders of Newman’s Own Organics, on overcoming consumer resistance to organic products and on giving to charity even if you run a cash-strapped business.


Write your questions for these speakers and send them to small-business columnist Vicki Torres, Business Section, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, or e-mail them to They will be passed on to the keynoters, who will answer them as time permits at their conference sessions.

The conference, Oct. 17-18 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, will offer more than 40 different panels in six subject tracks with more than 100 speakers, along with an exhibit hall, networking opportunities and free advice sessions.

For more information on the conference, please go to or call (800) 350-3211.