Elena Carné-Lorenz recalls meeting President Joe Biden

Published 5:56 pm Thursday, July 4, 2024

Elena Carné-Lorenz, owner of T31 design house, told how she had come to meet the Vice President, and President, of the United States. “Two years ago, I met the vice president. I love networking. I love connecting with people talking about Americus.” Carné-Lorenz told how she goes to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta to advocate for her business and the community.

The exposure allowed Vice President Kamala Harris to hear her story. “She’d read my story. As an immigrant, as an American, now living in Americus in rural America. She said ‘I want to know her. I want to talk to her.’”

Harris invited Carné-Lorenz to be a guest speaker at party that she hosted during Hispanic Heritage month. She told how Harris questioned her about the challenges she faced as a small business owner. Carné-Lorenz was candid: “I said the pandemic almost closed my business, but I’m very stubborn, I’m very persistent.” She mentioned that Harris and her team listened to her concerns.

After meeting the Vice President, Elena Carné-Lorenz had another opportunity to go to the White House for Venezuela Day after she was nominated as one of the 50 most influential Latinos in Georgia. Afterward, she mentioned a third opportunity to enter Presidential circles: “Then, three months ago, I was sewing, working on some alterations, and I received a phone call from somebody that I knew in Atlanta, and he [said]: ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and I’m like, ‘I’m home. I’m working.’” Her friend mentioned an opportunity to meet the President during his upcoming trip to Atlanta: “We are putting your name on a list, you just be ready, because the secret service is gonna call you.”

She mentioned that the President wanted to meet with Asian, Pacific Island, African-American, and Hispanic business owners. She mentioned receiving an email telling what sort of information the President was looking for. “I’m like, okay, I check all the boxes, because that’s what I have been pursuing. For a long time, I’ve been pursuing government contracting. I am woman owned certified small business, minority owned, and also I have the economical disadvantage certification, and have the HUBZone certification.” Carné-Lorenz explained how HUBZone certification was for businesses that had economic disadvantages in rural areas.

Elena Carné-Lorenz noted the agenda: “When he came he just [wanted] to know what are our challenges, especially with government contracting, for women owned businesses.” While Carné-Lorenz noted securing a few small contracts, she mentioned that this had been a challenge for her small business. She stated that larger companies, often overseas, had an advantage. “I want, as a small business, to have a foot in the door.”

She talked about meeting President Biden: “When I met the President, first he was talking, he’s like, ‘Oh I want to hear from you, I want to know about you,’ but he keep talking, and I say ‘President, I’m sorry to interrupt you, I don’t want to be rude, but I need to talk to you. I need to tell you what we need.’”

Carné-Lorenz detailed her plight: “I [explained] him that I have this small contract. But I need something bigger.”

Carné-Lorenz noted the impact a government contract would make. “I told him, I need one opportunity and a contract for five years, and that can change not only my business, that can change my entire community.” She mentioned that a five-year contract would allow her to offer jobs to her students while they completed college.

She gave Biden’s reaction to being interrupted: “He told me, ‘You are brave,’ because I told him to stop talking!”

Carné-Lorenz mentioned the First Lady’s Jill Biden’s response: “We want to help you to find contracts.”

The first lady’s aid resulted in a few calls. “I’m waiting for an opportunity. I told them, I am not expecting to receive nothing for free, I just want one work opportunity that can change the direction of my business. And I keep applying, I keep doing a lot of government bidding. But that was an amazing experience.”