Bernard D. Ryba, director of the Small Business Development Center at...

Bernard D. Ryba, director of the Small Business Development Center at Stony Brook University. Credit: Newsday/Bill Davis

Helping Hispanic-owned businesses on Long Island to win government contracts is the goal of a webinar series starting Tuesday from the Small Business Development Center at Stony Brook University.

The Hispanic Business Strategies Initiative consists of eight free webinars through late April. Each will be bilingual, and most will run 90 minutes, starting at 6 p.m., officials said.

The program, which is sponsored by Bank of America, will assist entrepreneurs to win certification as minority- and women-owned businesses, or MWBE. The certification helps in securing government contracts because governments set annual goals for MWBE participation in their contracting, the officials said.

"Hispanic entrepreneurs aren’t fully aware of the opportunities that may present themselves if they become MWBE-certified," said Bernie Ryba, director of the development center.

"We want to increase awareness and help with the [MWBE] application process … Government contracts have set asides of up to 30% [for MWBE firms] and oftentimes they’re not taken advantage of," he told Newsday on Monday.

The introductory webinar is Tuesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jacqueline R. Franco, one of the development center's business advisers, will discuss the program.

Other speakers will include Katherine Cortavarria, president of Manantial Cleaning Services Inc., a commercial cleaning firm based in Smithtown; Marc Perez, Bank of America’s Long Island president, and Robert Piechota, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Long Island branch manager.

To register, go to

Future webinars will address contracting opportunities with Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Orsted-Eversource offshore wind farms and Stony Brook University; business financing, and how to write a tender proposal. There also will be a virtual Bid Opportunity Day, where government agencies discuss projects that are seeking contractors.

Besides the webinars, Ryba said at least two of the development center’s advisers will offer individualized assistance to business owners on completing the MWBE application and winning a government contract.

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