As a child, Elizabeth Gomez spent hours in her grandfather’s woodshop constructing various pieces of artwork. Each colorful, wooden barrel or handcrafted birdhouse had a purpose.
Gomez’s love for design and construction continues as she owns and operates Bridge City Contracting, a remodeling business based in Battle Ground. She recently was awarded the Comcast RISE Technology Makeover after she experienced hardships caused by COVID-19. The program aims to help small minority-owned businesses that were disproportionately hit by the economic impact of the pandemic.
“It was just a treacherous year,” Gomez, who is Latina, said. “I think any business owner would agree that it was a tough year.”
The makeover includes a 90-day TV media campaign, commercial production, new computers and internet services, as well as voice and cybersecurity assistance.
In March of 2020, the construction industry in Washington shut down for six weeks. Once construction started again, an exhaustive list of requirements became Gomez’s responsibility as she installed handwashing stations, created safe traffic flow and took temperatures to abide by COVID-19 health measures.
The price of lumber and other building materials steadily increased as the pandemic made importing goods more difficult, impacting Gomez who imports around 90 percent of her materials.
To add to the setbacks, Gomez said she had many clients in Portland, but as protests around the city continued during the summer months, work could only be completed until 1 p.m.
Her construction company first operated out of a garage, and she would walk door-to-door in hopes of attracting clients. Now almost eight years later, Gomez operates an office in Battle Ground and specializes in kitchens and bathrooms.
“For me, being Latina means doing business in a way that is ethical,” she said. “I want to look out for a lot of Latinos in the industry who get taken advantage of.”
Gomez said even to her, applying for building permits can be confusing and time consuming. She is collaborating with the Clark County permitting center to update forms for Spanish speakers.
“Latinos make up such a large part of this industry,” she said. “But yet, the systems that are in place aren’t user friendly and make it hard for Latinos to navigate.”
Gomez has also taken on other leadership roles, like serving as a board member for the Washington State Building Industry Association.
As a previous scholarship award winner from the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber of Oregon, Gomez joined as a business owner eight years ago and became a board member. For the last two years, she has donated to the same scholarship program, she said.
“COVID really set the need for people to be able to function remotely,” Gomez said. “I need to be connected and have the technology to run my business.”
Gomez earned a bachelor’s degree at Marylhurst University in organizational communications, a master’s degree from University of Washington in mediation and public relations, and another bachelor’s degree in theology from East Coast Christian University.
Comcast is accepting applications for the third round of awards until July 31.