As the economy continues to struggle, the federal government is working to dole out procurement dollars to eager and able small businesses. The U.S. government is the world’s largest buyer of products and services. And this year, the central government entity aimed to spend upward of $600 billion in stimulus money on products and services.
Here are five ways to make sure your small business isn’t left behind. But move fast; Recovery Act funds are expected to last only until Sept. 30, 2010.
Find the money
Do your research for the appropriate job, agency, and contracting officers. Be sure to monitor the agency you are interested in regularly. The primary avenues to track opportunities are at www.fbo.gov under the Recovery Act opportunities option for procurements of more than $25,000; for Recovery Act grants, go to www07.grants.gov and click on the Recovery Act grants option; and to find solicitations for recovery subcontracting, go to web.sba.gov/subnet/search/index.cfm.
Use the middle man
Seek out services to support you. Consider procurement center representatives, known as PCRs, who can direct you to local contracting opportunities. A list of PCR names, contact info, and buying activities they cover can be found at www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/gcbd/GC_PCRD1.html. Other options include the Minority Business Development Agency (www.mbda.gov) and the federal agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The SBA offers local resources such as Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, Veterans Business Outreach Centers and more.
Form partnerships and network
Have a team of several small and large businesses you can tap into and go after recovery procurements with. Also, map out a plan to market your business and network with the appropriate contracting officer. Contact an SBA district office (www.sba.gov/localresources/index.html) in your area to speak with a business development specialist. District offices also hold periodic events for small business owners to meet with contracting officers.
The federal government isn’t the only avenue for Recovery funds. A majority of dollars are flowing down the pipe through state and local governments in the form of grants, contracts, subsidies, and loan programs. For a link to your state and its programs, refer to the U.S. map on Recovery.gov by going here: www.recovery.gov/?q=content/state-local-tribal-and-territorial-resources.
Head back to school
School is now in session with the SBA’s latest online training course, “Recovery Act Opportunities: How to Win Federal Contracts.” You’ll learn the basics for doing business with the government, with a section dedicated to finding recovery contract and grant opportunities. Start making the grade by checking out www.sba.gov/fedcontractingtraining.
This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.