by Melissa Becker, Government Contracting Specialist,
Northwest Commission PTAC

The U.S. federal government, as well as state and local governments, purchase billions of dollars of goods and services each year, hundreds of millions of that is from small businesses. This, along with the vast opportunity for subcontracting work with government contractors, definitely makes a market for small businesses to consider.

To effectively sell to the government, it’s important to learn how the contracting process works, to determine if government contracting is the right fit for a business and to make sure a business qualifies as a contractor. Not always an easy task. That’s where PTACs come in.

In an effort to assist small businesses to get a piece of the government contracting pie, the Department of Defense created Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) across the country. All PTACs have the same goal of working with businesses to help them better understand and become competitive in the government market. PTACs offer one-on-one counseling as well as public training sessions; and offer these services at no, or minimal, charge.

The Northwest Commission PTAC serves counties in northwestern PA, working with area business owners throughout Erie, Clarion, Crawford, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango & Warren counties to provide assistance. The group also partners with area business organizations and government agency representatives to offer workshops to the region’s business community. These events cover a variety of government contracting topics, are usually free, and are open to anyone interested in attending.

The biggest event of the year for the Commission’s PTAC is coming up on August 23rd in Erie. This procurement fair, known as Dynamic Networking for Small Business (DYNET North), is an opportunity for business attendees to network with federal and state agencies, attend training sessions and get information from various local business resources.

The event, presented with the support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will also feature a key note address from the U.S. Navy’s Office of Small Business Programs. The U.S. Navy has announced their long range shipbuilding plan to increase the U.S. Fleet from 280 to 355 Battle Force ships in the next 30 years or so. The U.S. Navy’s Office of Small Business Programs will present information regarding the announcement as well as providing face to face meetings with local manufacturers and innovators on how they can sell their products and/or services to the Navy. For more information regarding the U.S. Navy’s Shipbuilding plan, you can read the Report to Congress prepared by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations called LONG-RANGE PLAN FOR CONSTRUCTION OF NAVAL VESSELS.

Anyone wishing to attend DYNET can register at the event website or contact Robyn Young, PTAC Manager at
(814) 677-4800 ext. 130 or robyny@northwestpa.org. PTAC strongly encourages businesses not familiar with the government market to contact them for guidance in preparing for events such as DYNET-ERIE. The group will be offering a series of “DYNET Prep Sessions” in July; check out the NW Commission PTAC’s upcoming events site for further details and registration.

Visit http://www.northwestpa.org/government-contracting/ for more information on the Northwest Commission PTAC.
The North Central Regional Planning and Development Commission PTAC serves the counties of Cameron, Clearfield, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter- find their info at
www.ncentral.com.