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Government Contracting Program Helps Minnesota Company

Frank Duan in front of project photos

When Frank Duan came to the United States from China to study architecture he didn’t plan to stay, but, with services from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the land of opportunity contributed to him starting his own business, Duan Corporation, in 2002.

After working at corporate architecture firms for 10 years, Duan seized the opportunity to start his own small business when asked to design Mai Village Vietnamese Restaurant. Since that time he has designed over 100 restaurants, including Kobe Restaurant in Plymouth, Minn., Yumi’s Sushi Bar in Excelsior, Minn., and the Burger Place in the U.S. Bank Plaza building in downtown Minneapolis.

Duan’s company has benefited from the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, into which he was accepted in 2009.  The program offers a broad scope of assistance, including business counseling and sole-source access to government contracts, to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. It is an essential instrument for these entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society.

Participation in the 8(a) program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage. The overall program goal is to graduate firms that will go on to thrive in a competitive business environment and gain a foothold in government contracting.

A portion of Duan Corporation’s current work focuses on helping the government design and manage small to medium-sized projects and, via the 8(a) program, the company recently was selected to design and construct a new entrance for the U.S, Department of Agriculture Cereal Disease Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn. 

Duan is set to graduate from the 8(a) program next year.  When asked what he would tell other minority business owners about the program, Duan says, “Since you can only participate once, consider the timing of your application. Do you operate in a niche they need now?”  Duan also recommended talking to graduates to find out the best way to take full advantage of the resources available. 

Through his 8(a) program connections, Duan also has successfully bid on government contracts outside of the program, including as a subcontractor with AECOM for the Southwest Light Rail Transit project that involved designing station platforms and preparing construction drawings and specifications. Those plans are under consideration now by Metro Transit. Additionally, Duan Corporation has provided architectural services to State of Minnesota for many remodeling projects.

Company Name: 
Duan Corporation
Location: 
Minneapolis, Minnesota