Local business leaders received a crash course at July’s monthly Churchill Economic Development Authority breakfast on how to procure federal and state government contracts.
Maggie Neidigh, rural procurement specialist with the Governor’s Office for Economic Development, is based out of Fallon’s CEDA office. She said when Gov. Brian Sandoval took office in 2011, he wanted to diversify Nevada’s economy and not make the state as dependent on gambling as in previous years.
“We help businesses how to figure out how to do government contractors,” Neidigh explained to about 35 businessmen and women who attended the monthly breakfast.
“Our services are free for this statewide program.”
Since 1985, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center assists businesses with their federal, state and local contracting efforts. Neidigh said this is a cooperative agreement between the state and the Defense Logistics Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense. She said the statewide program serves every Nevada county.
“PTACs are in all 50 states and Guam and Puerto Rico,” she added.
Neidigh travels to all the rural counties to businesses who want work with government agencies, both national and international. She said a major goal of her office is to increase the number of companies doing business with many government agencies. Another major goal, according to Neidigh, is to generate employment and diversify the state’s economy.
Among the services her office can provide are one-on-one counseling, bid matching services, workshops, networking events, proposal development and webinars. Through her office, Neidigh said PTAC representatives will determine the suitability of companies doing business with the federal government.
“Usually, the federal government requires small businesses to have one to three years of successful operation,” she said.
Government contracts are a lucrative program. For example, Neidigh said, in 2012, federally awarded contracts totaled $516 billion, but only $2.9 billion went to Nevada businesses. In 2013, Neidigh said the amount totaled $407.9 billion nationwide, yet only $2.8 billion in contractors was awarded to businesses in the Silver State.
The process may seem long to many business people, Neidigh said, but applicants need to know or do certain tasks. She said government agencies are looking for quality products or services. According to Neidigh, A PTAC counselor will assist with the completion of paperwork.
Neidigh said federal, state and local governments have their own thresholds. She said federal awards under $150,000 are usually set aside for small businesses. For state and local contracts under $50,000, the need for services or products is not required to be publicly advertised or put out for competitive bid.
Neidigh, though, was adamant in telling the attendees that relationships must be developed.
“Buyers don’t feel comfortable if they don’t know who you are,” she said. “You need to sit down with them.”
If a business is not ready for a prime contact, Neidigh suggests businesses begin as a subcontractor and develop relationships and meet with more companies.
Neidigh lavished praise on local grower Rick Lattin, who works for the Small Business Development Center in the CEDA office.
“Take advantage of his knowledge,” she said.