Reactions to the information provided were mixed. Some entrepreneurs felt that much of it was too basic and didn’t offer any tangible advice that would help them break down some of the barriers they face or get to the next level, while those just beginning to explore the federal marketplace found it very helpful.
Some participants expressed frustration over large prime contractors not using small businesses as subcontracts and the lack of retribution when those companies don’t meet their subcontracting goals.
Klecker said that small firms have to be willing to speak up when such abuse takes place and that there are ways in which government representatives can pose questions to get to the bottom of a problem without incriminating the small business.
Jeffery Rocha, CEO of The Millennium Group International L.L.C., which recently became 8(a) certified, felt that the presenters spoke more from the perspective of the government or a large prime contractor and that they didn’t address issues such as the arduous 8(a) certification and contracting processes and what to do when you’ve followed all of the proper steps and still don’t win any opportunities. He fears that participants who are even less knowledgeable about the contracting process are headed down a path of frustration, which will cause them to give up.
Another participant felt that it would have been more helpful for the presenters to focus more on the minority business perspective than just small business.
“Why are we talking about opportunities for small business rather than opportunities for minority businesses? That’s where the improvements need to be made,” he said, adding that minorities seem to be getting an increasingly smaller slice of the federal contracting pie.
Thomas responded by saying, “As a minority-owned business you can still go after small business set-asides. You’re not limited, so why do you want to limit yourself?” She also said that there are close to 8,000 8(a) firms and many of them are getting contracts by going after the entire federal marketplace.