New app makes it easier to find Virginia small businesses owned by women and minorities

If you’re looking to spend your money with small Virginia businesses, there’s a new app that makes it easier to find them.

It’s called the Start Small app, and it was developed by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

“We are proud to contribute to the growth and success of Virginia entrepreneurs and the economy,” VDOT commissioner Stephen Brich said in a news release announcing the app.

Users can refine their searches if they only want to see small businesses owned by women, minorities or service-disabled veterans.

“Virginia is stronger because of our small businesses,” said Gov. Ralph Northam. “This app makes it easier than ever to support our local, women-owned, and minority-owned businesses. I encourage all Virginians to take advantage of Start Small.”

In addition to helping track down small businesses in the state, Northam said the app also helps state agencies find and access small business suppliers to work with on routine purchases.

Agency purchases are often made using small purchase charge cards. Cardholders spent more than $900 million in Fiscal Year 2020.

In 2019, Northam signed an executive order directing state executive branch agencies to allocate more than 42% of discretionary spending to certified small businesses, including those owned by women, minorities, and service disabled veterans, in state contractual work.

“We understand that when employees are in the field and they need immediate supplies, they just need to get the job done,” said Department of General Services Director Joe Damico. “Bringing this information to their fingertips helps ensure those taxpayer dollars are spent with Virginia’s small businesses to the greatest extent possible.”

The list of businesses in the Start Small app comes from eVA, a system run by the general services department. Companies register with that system in order to get noticed by government purchasers and do business with state agencies; registering is free.

There are nearly 13,000 small, women-owned and minority-owned certified vendors currently registered in eVA.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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