New program helps minorities qualify as city vendors

James McKissic, center, director of Multicultural Affairs for the city of Chattanooga, listens to Mayor Andy Berke's state of the city speech in April.

Three women entrepreneurs were introduced Thursday as the first to complete a new program helping women- and minority-owned businesses gain access to city contracts.

James McKissic, director of the Office of Minority Affairs in Mayor Andy Berke's administration, presented the three women before Berke signed an executive order encouraging women and minority entrepreneurs to do business with city government.

If you go

› What: Diversity certification and city contracting workshop› When: 3-4:30 p.m., Aug. 16› Where: City Hall› Contact: James McKissic,

Commercial cleaning service owner Velma Wilson and Melinda Bone, owner of Chicken-w-Bones and Edible Arrangements, recently have joined the list of suppliers to the city, McKissic said.

The third entrepreneur is Felicia Jackson, whose invention, CPR Wrap, was nurtured to fruition through Co.Lab's business development programs. Co.Lab's website said a personal experience led Jackson to create the CPR Wrap, a plastic guide placed over the mouth and chest that provides simple instructions for the life-saving procedure.