Persistence Pays Off

Cinnamon Rost won a contract to provide on-call marketing services for DART.

Landing a government contract isn’t an easy task, but it is possible—especially if you have someone knowledgeable to guide you through the process. Just ask Cinnamon Rost.

Rost, who owns and operates 1809 Design in Clive, submitted her first government request for proposal (RFP) in 2020.

“It was daunting, but CIRAS made it more manageable,” she said. “I’m not sure I would’ve been successful without their help.”

Rost connected with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center after becoming certified as an Iowa Targeted Small Business (TSB). Certification gave her access to TSB- exclusive events where she learned more about services provided by CIRAS and also met Justin Niceswanger, a CIRAS government contracting specialist.

Rost turned to Niceswanger for guidance when she was ready to compete for her first government contract. He reviewed her documents, made several suggestions, and reviewed the proposal once more before it was submitted.

“Government contracts are highly detailed and can be difficult to navigate,” Niceswanger said. “Working with someone who understands what the agencies are looking for can be the difference between having your proposal rejected and moving along in the process.”

While Rost didn’t win that award, she did come in a close second.

“Taking into account how new I was to the process and how much I learned, I considered it a success,” she said.

Last summer, Niceswanger found another opportunity that seemed like a good fit for Rost. The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) was looking for on-call marketing assistance. Rost, whose business offers marketing and graphic design services, prepared a draft RFP, which she sent to Niceswanger for review. Her proposal led to an interview with the DART in-house marketing team, and ultimately her company was chosen as an awardee.

“Our contract was finalized in June,” Rost said. “Since this was a general call for contractors, it might be some time before I receive any work. But at least I have the assurance of knowing that work will eventually come my way.”

Rost said she will continue seeking support from CIRAS as she competes for other government work.

“Having this type of support—someone who can explain the nuances of the RFP, answer my questions, and then read my proposal and make suggestions— is amazing. Working with CIRAS is a win-win,” she said.

For more information, contact Justin Niceswanger at or 515-509-9565.