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Small Business Development Center discusses government contracting

In the spirit of the national Small Business Week, Western’s Small Business Development Center, SBDC, hosted two workshops about government contracting on Wednesday, May 6. These workshops teach participants the basics of proposal development and becoming a successful government contractor. The training opportunities that the Small Business Development Center provide are focused on teaching government contractors and other participants to work on strategic planning and long-term growth issues. The workshops were the result of a partnership with the Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center, PTAC. “We have partnered with PTAC to bring the programs back to Bellingham as part of our participation of National Small Business Week,” CJ Seitz, interim director at Western’s Small Business Development Center, said. Seitz attributed two goals to these workshops. The first goal is raising awareness among the small business community about government contracting. The second one is about helping small business owners understand what is required to become a successful government contractor by helping them understand the process involved, Seitz said in an email. The importance in educating business majors and owners in government contracting lies in the waste of money indorsed in small businesses. “Sources in government contracting tell us that literally thousands of dollars of local government business go unserved every month in Washington state,” Seitz said. Led by the efforts of federal and state agencies, governments at every level have been seeking to engage the private sector as a supply partner to reduce costs to taxpayers and to enhance local economies across the country, Seitz said. Jean Hales, a government contracting assistance specialist and a director of small business programs at the PTAC, saw government contracting as a way to bridge the gap between small businesses and the government. There are a lot of advantages to collaborating with small businesses because of innovation, savings and infusing money back into our own economic system, Hales said. Hales started the presentation by clarifying which businesses may apply to government contracting. Government contracting should be part of a business plan. The business needs to have the financial resources to accommodate government pay schedules and the burden of government contracts. The government’s goal is to have a quality product or service delivered on time at a competitive price for the best value. Hales mentioned that the definition of small business depends upon industry. It is very liberal as some contracts consider some businesses with 600 people or less as small businesses, it also depends on revenue, Hales said. Contracting officers verify that a business may qualify for government contracting. They look for responsiveness and responsibility which considers integrity, reputation, adequate financial resources among other criteria within a business. Hales provided advice on registering a small business, studying market climate and creating a permanent electronic profile for the government to study the resume of a business. April Arnold, a student working on a masters of business administration and as a graduate assistant at the SBDC, saw these workshops as a way to get a thorough understanding of government contracting. “It’s very different in the classroom versus what the businesses are really experiencing in the real world,” Arnold said. She attended the workshop to better understand what clients might be looking for and comprehend things that are usually outside her scope, Arnold said. As Western does not require government contracting as a mandatory class to take for a master of business administration these workshops are important to teach potential and existing business-owners the ins and outs of government collaboration.

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