2012 Region V and Minnesota Women in Business Champion
Women in Business Champion
Receives SBA Regional Honor
Woodbury, Minn. – Barb Lau, Executive Director of the Association of Women Contractors, has been named the Women in Business Champion of the Year for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Minnesota District Office as well as the upper Midwest Region.
The Women in Business Champion is selected annually to honor individuals who have fulfilled a commitment to the advancement of women’s business ownership. Sherri Komrosky, Program Director of the Minnesota Procurement Technical Assistance Center, nominated Lau for this award.
The regional award winner is selected from among the state winners. In addition to Minnesota, SBA’s upper Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
Barb Lau began working as the Executive Director for the Association of Women Contractors (AWC) in 2008. The AWC is a trade association for women business owners and associate members in the construction industry. As the recognized leader for the AWC, Barb has doubled membership in three years, growing the association of over 150 members throughout Minnesota. Most of this growth has been new Women Business Owned companies. To the delight of the AWC, Barb has garnered new sponsorships and support from larger general contractors and municipalities not seen prior to her tenure.
In her role, Barb sits on various committees representing women’s interest for MnDOT as the Chair of the Good Faith Effort Committee and as part of the MnDOT Collaborative. She also sits on both the Joint Committee for the Met Council CCLRT (Central Corridor Light Rail Transit) program and on the Advisory Council for the CCLRT project. In the committee roles, Barb represents women DBE contractors in publicly funded projects to ensure goals are met through participation or actual good faith efforts by the contractors.
Barb’s extensive background in marketing formed her vision on how to assist women contractors
to succeed. Although the AWC is board directed, Barb incorporated her own priorities of networking and making real connections to build relationships. The focus of each event that the AWC puts on is networking or has a networking component. It is through the opportunity to build relationships with each other and with agencies and majority owned general contractors that the women business owners gain opportunity.
Barb worked on the planning committee for the 2011 Constructing Success event put on by the Met Council, MnDOT, MAC (Metropolitan Airports Commission) and other stakeholders. Always willing to go the extra mile to offer training and networking for women in this industry, Barb worked tirelessly to ensure a successful event resulting in record attendance of 240 contractors.
Barb worked with the office of Senator Franken on getting the Federal Women’s Program Implemented after it had become stagnant with its 11 years of discussion. Barb was able to get meetings set up with members and the Senator’s office so they could understand the importance this program has on women contractors.
Barb gave presentations in support of Governor Dayton’s bonding bill in 2011. By pointing out the importance of construction jobs to not only assist the current workers, but create future for all women entering the construction industry. This issue is dear to her heart as the AWC provides scholarships to women choosing the nontraditional career path.
Barb also secured a Grant in partnership between AWC and Midwest Construction Group to outreach to women and minority contractors to assist them with the process of DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) certification. One barrier to a firm getting certified is often the daunting paperwork involved. This grant has allowed her and her partner to assist in certifying 30 firms since April 2011, 21 of which were women-owned firms.
For more information:
Association of Women Contractors
1337 St. Clair Avenue, Suite 4
Saint Paul, MN 55105