With 15 years of experience managing a business behind him, Luyen Le was ready to start his own business. With help from AEDA’s small business development program over six months, Mr. Le and his long-time friend, Tyra Tran, successfully launched Modern Electrical Solutions, Inc. in October 2014.
In November 2014, Modern Electrical Solution (MESI) approached AEDA to help them start their business. Luyen and Tyra had been successful vendors at AEDA’s 2014 Night Market and learned of AEDA’s business development program. MESI came to AEDA needing a start up loan and wanted to become DBE. They needed AEDA’s help to navigate the different programs for disadvantaged business enterprise certification at the state, Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Without certification they would not qualify to bid on construction projects as a subcontractor. AEDA advised MESI to first obtain their certification as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise from the City of Minneapolis. In short order, they were certified, and immediately they won their first sub-contract in the amount of nearly $673,000. Soon after they were awarded another subcontract to work on the billion-dollar Vikings Stadium. As a result, MESI has hired five employees, three of them full-time. Including Luyen, three of the new jobs created via MESI have been filled by low-income individuals and one filled by a TANF recipient. The TANF recipient has been enrolled in the pre-apprentice program for electricians, putting her on the trajectory out of poverty and toward self-sufficiency.
In March 2015, MESI sought additional assistance from AEDA for a working capital loan in order for them to make payroll during the delay in receiving reimbursements from their Viking Stadium subcontracts. AEDA was able to approved a $15,000 loan and leveraged it with a $60,000 from the Metropolitan Economic Development Association.
In April 2015, MESI expressed concern that six months later they still had not been certified by the State of Minnesota’s Targeted Group Business (TGB). MESI had submitted their original application for TGB status in November 2014 when MESI first came to AEDA, and were frustrated that their application from TGB was stalled, costing them opportunities to bid on TGB projects and creating cash flow problems that would put their business at risk. AEDA contacted the state with a letter about MESI’s TGB applications, and requested clarification and expectations a business can reasonably have of the process. The next day, the state reached out to MESI for a site visit. Two days after AEDA wrote the state, the state visited MESI office, meeting with MESI and AEDA. The state approved MESI’s TGB application on the spot.
Recognizing the competitive edge special status designations can give a startup minority business, particularly in the construction trade, AEDA worked for several months to ensure MESI would obtain all the necessary certifications. Since then, AEDA has connected MESI with the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program and the North Central Minority Supplier Distribution Council to learn about other opportunities for MESI.
With tenacity and boldness, and help from AEDA, owners Tyra Tran and Luyen Le have successfully started one of the few Asian and women owned electrical contractor businesses in Minnesota. They are looking to continue to grow and employ more low-income community members in the electrical trade. They understand the impact they can have for their community as a job creator and are proud of there accomplishment. http://www.modernesi.com