Diane Coury invested $50 in an interior design business for one woman in 1980; it never flopped.
“I thought to myself, ‘I couldn’t do worse by venturing out on my own rather than working for someone else,'” Coury explained. “I started contacting architects and furniture reps and was soon hired as a sub-contractor for businesses and restaurateurs, providing floor plans, furniture, flooring and more. “
For years, the female designer has worked consistently and successfully with non-profit, commercial and residential clients, contributing her expertise as a designer, buyer and consultant; his individual approach harmonizing homes, offices of university presidents and multi-story office buildings.
Eventually, Coury decided it was time to revamp his own business. She has earned the Women-Owned Small Business Certification from the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), adding federal, state and local government agencies to her client base.
“This program is so important to our women-owned small businesses because certification helps participants increase their income by selling in government markets,” said SBA Western Pa. District Manager Dr. Kelly Hunt.
“Our goal is to award at least five percent of all federal contract dollars to women through special industry bidding and bookings. In 2020, $27 billion worth of contracts were awarded to women-owned small businesses, creating thousands of jobs.
Coury moved to a new location, becoming a client of the North West Commission’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), beginning the procurement process.
“We provide free help to small business owners to determine if there is a market for their products or services,” said Melissa Becker, government contracts specialist.
“Although the government buys everything, customers need to consider whether contracting or contracting with the government is a viable business choice.”
Becker and her colleagues helped Coury obtain her Women’s Business Certification, register with SAM.gov (System for Awards Management), and enroll in the Commonwealth’s Cooperative Purchasing Program. Designated as both an interior designer and supplier of window treatments, lighting, furniture and carpeting, Coury began sharing her decades of expertise in Pennsylvania and across the country.
She secured contracts with the Defense Logistics Agency and Fort Sam Houston, a US Army post in Texas. “The commission showed me where the opportunities were listed,” she added. “I received a layout and provided the price for furniture and installation and won the bid.”
She never even left her New Castle office to complete the contract, a far cry from her early days of hand-drawing floor plans with updates sent by mail. “I still use the same spatial flow and design elements as when I started, but today many projects can be done online.”
When the pandemic hit, Coury’s corporate work came to a complete halt. A loan from the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) helped his small business weather the pandemic.
Paycheck Protection Program loans were SBA-backed and repayable loans designed to help small business owners like Coury use the proceeds for eligible expenses such as payroll, utilities and bonuses. health care. Last year, more than one million women business owners across the country received $33 billion in PPP assistance.
In addition to the SBA, the owners have boosted Coury’s business during the pandemic.
“People were stuck at home and wanted to upgrade kitchens and bathrooms,” she said. “Even though I don’t advertise, contacts have tripled. I spent months planning their spaces, drawing plans, and serving as a dealer for cabinets and other equipment until the installers could complete the project. »
Today, she re-bids on several federal projects using her decades of industry expertise to benefit end users.