The federal government needs small businesses to bid on projects, but many owners avoid the process because they don’t know how to start.
One new employee on the JCCC campus is trying to help business owners wade through the process – Jason Porch, subcenter director, Kansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).
Porch started his job in March 2012 after a stint at the Montana PTAC. His office is in Regnier Center 230, but his mission is area-wide.
“Government contracting is – appropriately so – associated with a lot of paperwork. But there are a lot of things a business can do to get the ball rolling, such as certifications and registrations,” Porch said. “That can be a little daunting. ‘Where do I go? Where do I start?’ That’s where we can help.”
For the last two years, the Kansas City area was devoid of a local connection to the services PTAC offers. When the Kansas PTAC office located at the University of Missouri-Kansas City closed its doors, businesses could only turn to the nearest offices in Joplin, Mo., and Wichita, Kan.
JCCC saw the opportunity to help the community fuel its economic engine by hosting the PTAC on campus, said Malinda Bryan-Smith, director, Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC).
Business owners are always looking for additional sources of revenue to help maintain their business’s bottom line. With the assistance of the Heartland PTAC, these same business owners may find that a government contract is a viable option to do just that.
Porch said he has averaged about 30 new business clients a month. Many have visited the federal, state and local procurement process before, but have yet to fully incorporate this market into their business. Other clients are business owners new to the government market.
While Porch said he is willing to work with any business owner, he suggests they attend a class he teaches each month entitled “Introduction to Government Contracting.” The cost is $25, offered through JCCC’s continuing education division.
“The idea is to run you through the gamut of what would be involved with accessing the government market and to show you where to start,” Porch said.
With that basic knowledge, owners may schedule time with Porch free of charge. Porch will assist clients in researching required registrations, filing forms, or set up a profile in a program called Bid Match, allowing a business owner to see what jobs are available. If an opportunity is found, Porch will also assist business owners in preparing a response to the solicitation.
In addition to these services, business owners can work with Porch to research past procurement opportunities. From this research, a business owner can assess to some degree if the rates they offer to the private sector would be competitive in the public sector.
Bryan-Smith said she’s glad the college and the community now have an on-site PTAC expert.
“Government procurement is highly technical. There is an almost an excruciating level of detail that you have to get down to in order to deal with the process…I tell people it’s almost like learning a foreign language,” she said. “It’s just something you have to learn by doing, then you’ll get the process down. That’s what Jason’s here to help you do.”