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Small businesses get help in chasing government contracts

NNBW Staff

Even as the private sector economy continues to weaken, opportunities abound for small businesses in northern Nevada to sell to local, state and federal governments.

The trick is getting small businesses ready to do business with the government, say representatives of agencies that have launched an effort to do just that.

“In today’s economy, we need to focus on the opportunities that are there,” says David Leonard, a senior area manager for the Small Business Administration in Nevada. “There’s a lot of opportunity with local and state governments, as well as the federal government.”

But small business owners often don’t know how to pursue that business and may need an extra step or two to get their businesses positioned to win contracts, says Deborah Prout, executive director of the

Nevada Microenterprise Initiative.

For instance, she says some government jobs require that companies be able to be bonded. Other companies may find that winning a government contract leaves them strapped for working capital.

But even from their first meetings with would-be entrepreneurs, staff members of the Nevada Microenterprise Initiative talk about the possibilities of government contracts.

“As a lender, our first line of defense against defaults is viable businesses,” says Prout. The Microenterprise Initiative provides loans as small as $2,500 to start-up and expanding businesses.

To get small businesses on the road to winning government contracts, the Microenterprise Initiative and the SBA are working with the Nevada Small Business Development Center on once-a-month workshops in Reno. (The next one runs 1-4 p.m. on Oct. 23. It’s free, but registration is required by calling 784-1717 or through http://www.nsbdc.org/education/calendar/.)

The workshops include an introduction to government contracting, information on how to bid and guest speakers.

Leonard says the SBA’s SCORE program which provides retired executives as counselors to small businesses also has beefed up its services to companies interested in government contracts.

The Procurement Outreach Program of the state’s Commission on Economic Development more commonly known as “POP” helps companies identify potential contracting opportunities, and Leonard says the agencies that work with small businesses want to increase the pool of potential bidders.

“We’re giving POP a more polished client,” Leonard says.

POP, the SBA and the Department of Defense also schedule an annual matchmaking event at which small businesses can present their services to government procurement officers.


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