Certifications help local business beat the competition

Classy Chics Event Planning & Catering of Hillsborough County

Classy Chics Event Planning & Catering of Hillsborough CountyAs a popular destination location for weddings and events, the Tampa Bay area is a competitive market for those in the event planning industry. But that hasn’t stopped owner, La’Tasha Mann, and mother, Cookie Salter, from following their dream.

With Mann’s delicious recipes and Salter’s creative decorating skills, the pair took their once individual services and partnered to create Classy Chics Event Planning & Catering.

Shortly after joining forces, they enrolled in the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corporation’s (BBIC) CATCH program, a 15-week business program that trains business owners in a variety of areas. It is through this program that they met Florida SBDC at University of South Florida business consultant, Yanina Rosario.

“We’re experts at what we do – cooking and decorating,” Salter said. “We’re not experts at collecting information or knowing where to go in order for us to get our certifications. With the help of Florida SBDC at USF, we were able to get our certifications in a timely manner. Not only for our women and minorities certifications, but also with other organizations like the City of Tampa, Hillsborough County and USF.”

Mann added, “Also, Florida SBDC at USF allowed us to register as vendors with different corporate organizations in Hillsborough County and all around Florida.”

With Rosario’s help they have recently placed a bid through Business Connect to provide their services for the NFL during the 2021 Super Bowl. “If it had not been for Florida SBDC, we would not have these certifications and would not have this possible opportunity,” Salter said.

While they’re waiting to hear back from the NFL, business is booming in the private sector.

“We have contracts booked all the way to November of this year,” Mann said. “We have some weddings, baby showers and we even have a couple of banquets lined up with Hillsborough County schools.”

After securing their minority and women-owned business certifications, they have found a valuable resource in Rosario and the Florida SBDC at USF.

“Moving forward with the SBDC and Yanina, we would like to continue to grow and continue for her to be a resource for us,” Salter said.

“We can continue to get other contracts, maybe other certifications and also help other perspective businesses. We can help them understand the challenges and advise them to just listen, pay attention and follow the steps and you too will be successful.”