Most businesses receiving services from our CIRAS APEX Accelerator program are receiving a Bid Match service from us no cost. This service helps businesses find formally-posted opportunities related to their products and services. The majority of posts found by the Bid Match, however, are in the solicitation phase, in which government agencies are actively seeking … Continue reading What Does the Forecast Say?
In the competitive business landscape, building customer trust is paramount. To instill this confidence, businesses require visibility and a clear understanding of their offerings. Acknowledging this challenge, CIRAS is proactively addressing it. Our upcoming ‘Meet the Buyers’ event in Sioux City next month offers businesses and government entities a vital platform to connect. Government procurement … Continue reading Meet the Buyers Event Facilitates Business-Government Connections
Jayna Grauerholz has joined CIRAS as a government contracting specialist on the APEX team. Jayna brings a wealth of experience and expertise in government contracting. She is an experienced RFP writer and evaluator, contract drafter, negotiator, and manager, and is experienced in many other areas of government contracting. She previously worked for the Ames National … Continue reading CIRAS Staff News: Meet Jayna Grauerholz
Did you know…..Updating your capabilities narrative, seen in the SBA Dynamic Small Business Search tool, is of no cost.
A capability statement is a marketing statement about your business and its capabilities, past performance, company data and essentially showcases who you are and what you do when doing business with the Federal Government or Prime Contractors looking for subcontractors. If your business is registered in SAM.gov, you may have received marketing emails stating that … Continue reading Did you know…..Updating your capabilities narrative, seen in the SBA Dynamic Small Business Search tool, is of no cost.
Kirkland “Bubba” Davidson credits DBE certification with helping him better compete for subcontracting work. Kirkland “Bubba” Davidson, owner of the Des Moines-based Dirty 30 Trucking & Excavating, built his company from the ground up, relying mostly on his own skills and research. He was successful in securing independent contracts as well as subcontracting jobs, both … Continue reading Becoming Even More Competitive
Did You Know: Training Offered for the New Regulatory Adjustments on the Davis-Bacon Regulations Act
The Department of Labor’s recently published final rule updating the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts Regulations – the first comprehensive Davis-Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA) regulatory review – in nearly 40 years. Originating in 1931, the DBRA mandates that laborers and mechanics receive prevailing wages and fringe benefits when engaged in federally funded contracts exceeding $2,000. … Continue reading Did You Know: Training Offered for the New Regulatory Adjustments on the Davis-Bacon Regulations Act
ePATHUSA, an Iowa software consulting and staff augmentation firm, has achieved remarkable success as a federal contractor, securing the 2023 National Small Woman-Owned Business of the Year award from the National 8(a) Association and HUBZone Contractors National Council. They are now well positioned to pursue contracts with the Department of Defense. Graduating from their … Continue reading Climbing the Government Contract Ladder
Are you a small business that needs some practical guidance in the government contracting space, from a company that’s experienced in the Federal market? If so, and you know a large Prime contractor that could be a good partner, then the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé (MPP) program might be perfect for you! First of all, why would … Continue reading SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program
Are You an Innovator? Don’t Miss the SBIR/STTR Road Show By Anne McMahon, Statewide SBIR/STTR Program Coordinator America’s Seed Fund, $4B, is the largest source of early-stage, non-dilutive funding in the United States. The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are highly competitive and encourage small businesses to explore … Continue reading Are You an Innovator? Don’t Miss the SBIR/STTR Road Show
With the July HUBZone map release update, we wanted to take the opportunity to revisit what it takes to be a HUBZone business and share the benefits. If you meet the requirements below, and you still have questions, we would encourage you to reach out to your CIRAS Government Contracting Specialist or direct to the … Continue reading Did You Know? The HUBZone Map is Updating in July!
Bryan Christopherson, Midwest regional manager at Floodproofing.com, attended the 2022 Small Business Industry Day at Rock Island Arsenal hoping to learn more about doing business with the federal government. It didn’t take him long to connect with Julie Fagle, a government contracting specialist with CIRAS. With her guidance, Floodproofing.com was eventually awarded a $236,000 … Continue reading Partnership with APEX Pays Off
As we’ve previously mentioned, APEX Accelerator programs (formerly Procurement Technical Assistance Centers / PTACs) throughout the United States are now being managed by the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP). While much of the government contracting assistance available for businesses from APEX Accelerators like ours will remain unchanged, the update … Continue reading Did You Know? Are you “DIB-Ready”?
Q: Tell me about your role at CIRAS and the type of clients you work with. A: I am currently serving as the Program Director for the APEX Accelerator program that assists businesses with selling their products and services to government agencies. I primarily support a team of government contracting specialists that provide one-on-one counseling, training events and … Continue reading Q & A With CIRAS Government Contracting Director, Jodi Essex
In most government bid processes, you will see an Evaluation Criteria list in the bid document. The Evaluation Criteria guide the evaluator or evaluation team in scoring each bid response to assist in the award decision. Before submitting your bid response, review the evaluation criteria carefully and be prepared to ask questions. For example: If … Continue reading Did You Know….the value of the bid Evaluation Criteria?
Not many small businesses have staff who can spare several hours a week pursuing government contracts. It can be time-consuming to determine which government agencies to contact, to research their needs and protocols, and to prepare a sales pitch. It’s even a challenge just to find the right person in the right department—and to get … Continue reading Meet the Buyer Events Lead to Immediate Results
The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) offers a program specific to small business contractors where small businesses compete against each other and not against large contractors. This program, separate from the DBE Certification, is called the Small Business Development Contracts Program. To be eligible for this, a small business must become a Certified Small Business Contractor … Continue reading Did You Know? Small Business Development Contracts Program
Announced last month, PTAC is now called APEX Accelerators, and with that comes some new and exciting goals from our federal grant funder, the Office of Small Business Programs under the DOD. One of these goals is to help traditionally disadvantaged businesses (8(a), Woman-Owned, HubZone, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, and more) register and sell to the Federal … Continue reading Calling all Iowa Innovators!
YOUR VOICE MATTERS Niki Rainey, Civil Rights Bureau Director, encourages Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) companies to “have your voice heard at the table” of each monthly DBE goal-setting meeting. WHY does it matter to a DBE? Every month, the Civil Rights Bureau hosts a virtual goal-setting meeting to set the DBE subcontracting goals for the … Continue reading Why Goal Setting Matters to Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Companies
Starting a business from scratch isn’t easy, but with hard work and determination, Lily Okech made it happen. Okech is a refugee from Uganda who arrived in the United States in 2005 as a ninth-grader without the ability to read or speak English. She soon learned to do both. In 2018 Okech started Cleaning for … Continue reading Cleaning for Hope Finds Success While Helping Others
It’s been a wild and wooly economy the past three years, but CIRAS is looking forward to the upcoming year with new ways to help Iowa businesses manage oncoming challenges. “2023 is going to be a year where we learn a lot about where the economy and industry is going in the next three to … Continue reading CIRAS Looks Forward to 2023
The Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP), formerly managed by the Defense Logistics Agency, changed hands on October 1, 2022, and is now under the direction of the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP). The PTAP program was authorized by Congress in 1985 to expand the number of businesses capable of participating … Continue reading APEX Accelerator: A New Name for PTACs
As we wrap up 2022, our team wanted to take the opportunity to provide Iowa businesses doing business in the government sector with updates and considerations. Iowa Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has a new registration site. The new state of Iowa DAS electronic bidding system, the Iowa Management of Procurement and Contracts Systems (IMPACS), … Continue reading Wrapping Up 2022 and Preparing for 2023
An international construction company is partnering with CIRAS to increase the participation of underrepresented contractors on its projects. Turner Construction, the largest domestic contractor in the U.S., and the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) are offering a free five-week program designed to enhance the ability of Underrepresented Business Enterprises (UBEs) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises … Continue reading 1st Annual Construction Diversity Accelerator – Hosted by Turner Construction & CIRAS
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,” … Continue reading Persistence Pays Off
A Cedar Rapids-based lawn care company was awarded a small initial contract that has since led to more than $100,000 in work after CIRAS helped prepare the business owner for the government contracting process. Rupert Ellis, owner of Crew Cut Lawn Care, contacted Julie Fagle, a government contracting specialist with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance … Continue reading New Targeted Small Business Wins First Contract
By: Justin Niceswanger In my role as a counselor for Iowa businesses seeking government contracts and subcontracts, I’ve noticed how it can be difficult for some of our clients to move forward in using direct marketing efforts, and begin building relationships with government personnel and prime contractors. These actions aren’t easy for everyone: Even if … Continue reading Did You Know? Taking Advantage of Networking Opportunities
Hurricane Ian worked its way up the eastern State’s coastline and destroyed homes, businesses, bridges, roadways, power lines, and much more infrastructure. Per FEMA, The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (the Stafford Act) §401 states in part that: “All requests for a declaration by the President that a … Continue reading Did You Know… Your Small Business May be Able to Help After a Natural Disaster?
Being a one-person show hasn’t stopped Eduard Mato from securing multiple federal contracts for his musical instruments and music education business. From his office in Centerville, Eduard Mato runs U.S. Music, an international business that provides musical instruments, music lessons, and coordination of performing arts events. A highly trained professional musician himself, Mato started the … Continue reading One-Person International Music Business Benefits from CIRAS Research, Contract Expertise
Every product or service has features and benefits, but did you know that you should never mention a feature without explaining the benefit of that feature? Why? Because not every feature is a benefit to your target customer. For example, if your target customer lives in Florida, heated seats (the feature) of a product would … Continue reading Did You Know? Agencies Buy Benefits Not Features
Roxanne Schlue was two months into her new job at LMT Defense when the Eldridge company received one of its largest-ever federal contracts. Schlue’s job as compliance manager was to ensure that the appropriate flow-down clauses were passed down to subcontractors. For assistance with that, she turned to the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). “When … Continue reading Assistance with Flow-down Clauses Helps Ensure Contract Compliance
Assistance from the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) helped an Oskaloosa-based manufacturer address inaccuracies in their invoicing information that were delaying payment for a government job. Larry Lewis, owner of Lewis Repair and Manufacturing, contacted CIRAS after experiencing a delay in getting paid for an incinerator he delivered to a military base in Florida. … Continue reading Invoicing Problems Resolved; Company Gets Paid
A family-owned welding business founded 39 years ago in southwest Iowa used its ongoing relationship with CIRAS to further its understanding of the government bid process. As a result, they’ve recently been awarded two contracts from the USDA Forest Service totaling more than $256,000. Gregory Welding, located in Sidney, had previously completed their System for … Continue reading Understanding Government Bid Process Pays Off
As part of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, federal funds were authorized to support the continued development of electric vehicle (EV) chargers. Iowa is joining with many other states in developing plans to create an EV charging network along Interstates 29, 35, 80, and 380. Our state federal funding for 2022 is $7.6 … Continue reading Did You Know? Iowa’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan
A $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law last November could mean more projects for Iowans who are certified to work with the government. Iowa is scheduled to receive $5 billion in funding for improvements, including $3.4 billion for highway repairs, $432 million to replace and repair bridges, $638 million for water infrastructure improvements, $305 … Continue reading Registration Paves the Way for Highway Improvement Contracts
ACT Safe, a Sioux City business focused on assisting companies with compliance issues, is looking forward to a record year after receiving their 8(a) certification. ACT Safe plans to hire 15–20 new employees and hopes to secure more government contracts like the one that currently has founder Lorna Puntillo working with the Florida Veterans Administration … Continue reading ACT Safe Expecting Record Year
If you are experiencing challenges with your SAM registration – You are not alone. On April 4, 2022 the U.S. government transitioned from DUNS numbers to Unique Entity IDs, also known as a UEIs. Many companies are experiencing challenges and delays in getting their SAM registrations renewed, preventing the government from being able to issue … Continue reading Did You Know? Updates to SAM.gov
By Samantha Ferm If you’re a Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and have applied for the SBA’s WOSB certification in the past, you might have been aware of the odd requirement a limited number of NAICS codes were even applicable to be considered as a ‘woman-owned small business.’ This eliminated hundreds of possible NAICS codes across … Continue reading Did You Know?” The SBA Has Expanded WOSB NAICS Codes
A Davenport business owner who turned to CIRAS for assistance with securing government contracts has already seen dividends in the form of new work. Jeno Berta owns Halberd Security, a company that installs, repairs, and services security systems that protect buildings, infrastructure, and technology. Berta launched his company in 2019 with business partner Chris Chonto. … Continue reading Security Company Credits PTAC with Recent Growth
By: Justin Niceswanger In past years, federal agencies have established contracting goals to award at least 5% of their prime contract spend to small disadvantaged businesses. In December of last year, the Biden Administration announced the goal would substantially increase. How much was the increase? Can your company qualify as a small disadvantaged business, and … Continue reading Did You Know? The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program
By Jodi Essex We’ve seen so many changes in the government contracting world in the past year it’s difficult to keep it all straight. Here’s a quick recap of the changes that are happening or are in the works: CMMC / Cybersecurity The government has now introduced a less burdensome version of the Cybersecurity Maturity … Continue reading Did You Know? The GovCon World is Ever-Changing
Selling your products or services to government agencies begins with building a network of potential buyers. CIRAS can help with that with “Meet the Buyers” events that offer opportunities for both sides of the government procurement process to learn about each other. Government procurement officials and federal prime contractors will describe what they buy and … Continue reading Connecting with Government Buyers
An Anamosa company is better positioned to compete for government work after connecting with Julie Fagle, a government contracting specialist with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Gregory Husmann, of Husmann Development Inc., reached out to Fagle late last spring for assistance with a bid on a new Veteran Affairs (VA) clinic. Husmann is … Continue reading Company Gets VA Certification in Record Time
A Cherokee manufacturer has utilized their ongoing relationship with CIRAS to understand a new bid process, expand its list of potential customers, and learn how to certify its cybersecurity protocols. Bob Simonsen, marketing manager at RJ Thomas Manufacturing, recently contacted CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) government contracting specialist Mary Zimmerman for assistance with a … Continue reading Manufacturer Gets Help Navigating New Bid Process
By: Mary Zimmerman Certain government programs, such as Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs and contracting opportunities, are reserved for small businesses. To qualify, businesses must satisfy the SBA’s definition of a small business concern, along with the size standards for small business. SBA sets the size standards for businesses by industry using either revenue … Continue reading Did You Know? New SBA Business Size Standards Rule
By Samantha Ferm There’s no better time than the start of a new year to connect with your PTAC counselor and do an audit of your goals with government contracting….and we are here to help! One thing I love to do for clients is simply work with them in updating a free market research report, … Continue reading Prepare for Government Contracting in 2022 with Your PTAC Counselor
By Julie Fagle In recent weeks we have been discussing doing business with state/local Governments, some specific options for the surrounding states including their direct websites, as well as the relationship driven nature of marketing and contracting with these organizations. There is also a resource available to help you develop these potential customers even further … Continue reading Did you know? There is a Resource Available to Help You Understand Doing Business with Other States
A conference focused on connecting Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) with numerous resource partners was held November 3 in Des Moines. The well-attended event provided opportunities for businesses to learn best practices, meet and identify potential business partners, increase their business exposure with other DBE companies, and collaborate with other contractors. CIRAS partnered with the Iowa … Continue reading 2021 DBE Conference Debrief
CIRAS has received an Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) grant to help prepare disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) to compete for highway construction projects and other DOT-funded work. This $133,000 DBE Support Services grant will fund CIRAS staff to offer one-on-one assistance to DBEs, which are generally defined as small businesses that are 51 percent or … Continue reading Grant Paves Way for Businesses to Compete for DOT Work
A Windsor Heights real estate appraisal company was awarded its first-ever government contract last February after reaching out to CIRAS for assistance with the process. Neilly & Company Real Estate Appraisals received $3,900 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to determine the value of a facility located in Jefferson. Justin Niceswanger, a government contracting specialist … Continue reading CIRAS Helps Appraiser Get First-ever Government Contract
By Justin Niceswanger On September 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors. The order creates requirements for federal agencies to add a new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause in many federal solicitations and contracts (and other contract-like instruments) which, in turn, requires many federal contractors and subcontractors to … Continue reading Did You Know? Federal Contract COVID Vaccination Requirements
While you might think those two sound the same, they are essentially different in not only their mission but also how they purchase items. the Iowa Prison Industries (IPI) refers to itself as the ‘work arm’ of the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC)… essentially, the IPI helps prepare current offenders with work training opportunities to … Continue reading Doing Business with the Iowa Department of Corrections and Iowa Prison Industries
If you are a small business, nonprofit organization of any size, or a U.S. agricultural business with 500 or fewer employees that has suffered substantial economic injury as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can apply for the SBA’s COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). This loan provides economic relief to small businesses and nonprofit organizations that are … Continue reading COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan
A Belle Plaine, Iowa, maker of display panel walls is looking forward to a record year after CIRAS helped the company find more than $130,000 in government contracts through its BidMatch computer service. Kathy Kyle, owner of Pareti Mobile Walls, credits Julie Fagle, a government contracting specialist with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), for helping her company rebound after … Continue reading Pareti Mobile Walls Builds Business with BidMatch
A new Dyersville concrete construction company landed four government contracts during its first few months of operation and began mapping a path to more ambitious efforts after working with a CIRAS government contracting specialist. Hogan Company LLC opened its doors in early 2021 and found its way to CIRAS through the SBA–Small Business Development Center. … Continue reading Hogan Company LLC Gets Leg Up on Government Contracting with CIRAS Help
By Jodi Essex Are you still ignoring the word “cybersecurity”? You can’t any longer. As security breaches continue to occur in industries across the country, the need to assess your company’s level of security becomes increasingly important. Many businesses wonder where to begin with such an assessment, and this is where CIRAS can help. Our cybersecurity … Continue reading Cybersecurity Is Necessary to Secure Growth
A Cedar Falls mapping and imagery company has used valuable support from CIRAS to garner more than $11 million in government contracts over the past five years. Aerial Services Inc. is a veteran-owned small business that provides companies and governments with a wide range of services, including aerial LiDAR, digital orthoimagery, and comprehensive mapping solutions. Ryan Kibsgaard, … Continue reading Aerial Services Finds Powerful Partner in CIRAS Advisor
Did you know that the Rock Island Arsenal (RIA), which is an actual island situated between Iowa and Illinois on the Mississippi River, houses more than one major Army command and over 60 tenant organizations, both public and private entities? The five major Army organizations on the island each have different and unique buying needs: … Continue reading Did You Know? Rock Island Arsenal Overview
Federal agencies have an annual goal to award at least 5% of spend on prime contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and, for contracts which include small business subcontracting plans, the WOSB subcontracting goal is also 5%. To help meet these goals, agencies will sometimes set-aside or even sole-source opportunities to WOSBs and Economically Disadvantaged … Continue reading DID YOU KNOW?… Federal Certification for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs)
Two longtime CIRAS employees are taking on new roles in an attempt to serve Iowans better.
They saying goes, “The only constant in life is change.” If you have been working in the federal contract market during the past couple of years, there seems to be no truer statement.
The long-awaited, much-anticipated integration of SAM.gov and beta.SAM.gov occurred on May 24.
As of May 24, legacy SAM.gov, as you know it, was retired. Its registration, excluded parties listing, and other functionalities were moved to beta.SAM.gov. But the “beta” also went away, and it is now called SAM.gov. This is an entirely new, consolidated system.
CIRAS has received a $133,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT)to help economically and socially disadvantaged businesses develop as companies so they are better able to compete for highway construction projects and other DOT-funded projects.
As part of the grant, CIRAS will provide one-on-one assistance to companies who qualify as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) – generally defined as small business that are at least 51 percent owned by women or minorities – about the best ways to position themselves for government bidding opportunities and market themselves to prime contractors and government agencies
NAICS is old news for a news email, as the system has been around for 23 years. But this topic comes up often with clients, so I thought it would be a nice refresher to emphasize the importance of NAICS and their ongoing relevancy.
NAICS – Also known as North American Industrial Classification Codes, these codes are used in federal procurements and in small business size standards. The North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS (pronounced “Nakes”), was developed under the direction and guidance of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as the standard for use by federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of statistical data describing the U.S. economy.
Besides helping you with your government vendor registrations and figuring out tricky interpretations of contract clauses or requirements, PTAC counselors also can help small businesses during the bidding process! But how?
An Eldridge arms manufacturer won business worth more than $17 million after CIRAS helped the company wade deeper into government contracting.
Lewis Machine and Tool Company, which does business as LMT Defense, for decades has been a major manufacturer of firearms for military and law enforcement customers, many of them overseas. The company had performed a variety of U.S. government work since it was founded in 1980, but LMT leaders last year set a new goal to vastly increase the percentage of company sales inside American borders.
Government contracting can be an excellent path for a business to diversify its customer base and build a stable source of revenue. But the pool of available opportunities can expand dramatically when large prime companies team with small businesses. How do companies of different sizes with complementary capabilities find each other? To help with that, … Continue reading Virtual Matchmaking Session on April 8
The Iowa Department of Transportation offers a program specific to small business contractors where small businesses compete against each other and not against large contractors. This program, separate from the DBE Certification, is called the Small Business Development Contracts Program. To be eligible for this, a small business must become a Certified Small Business Contractor (CSBC) by meeting the requirements through the Iowa DOT’s Civil Rights Bureau. (Note: There is no ethnic or gender limitation for this program.)
To become a CSBC, and to bid on the small business contracts, follow the steps below:
Although many of us are optimistic 2021 will be better than the year we just went through, the world will continue to struggle with both the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID pandemic. In addition to trying to keep ourselves and others physically and mentally healthy during these trying times, there also are concerns about the health of our economy – including volatility in the pricing and availability of labor and materials. Economic swings may impact not only the way government agencies contract for products and services, but also the amount of risk contractors are willing to accept on these contracts.
Here are a few options for you to consider:
A Bettendorf machine shop landed government contracts worth more than $100,000 after CIRAS helped a new supervisor delve deep into the intricacies of government bidding.
Bowe Machine in Bettendorf.
Michael Bigsby had been working at Bowe Machine Company for roughly six months when he proposed that the company pursue government contracts. Bigsby had been involved in quoting government jobs for a previous employer, but he had never played a major role in the bidding process.
So, he sought help understanding the procedures.
A Waverly manufacturer of slip rings landed a $1.7 million contract from the Federal Aviation Administration after CIRAS helped the company understand government bidding requirements and learn how to write a formal proposal.
Hemen Dattani, sales director for United Equipment Accessories (UEA), was tasked last March to explore federal contracting opportunities so UEA could leverage a newly forged research and development partnership to expand design capabilities and make the company competitive in new markets. He turned to the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for help.
Government agencies spend an enormous amount of money each year on construction projects for the public. These projects follow their own particular lifecycle and pose unique challenges for contractors when it comes to issues things such as site conditions, scheduling changes, or wage requirements.
Wouldn’t you like some help navigating the complexities of this complicated world?
Many of us are extremely grateful to put 2020 behind us and begin focusing on a more promising 2021. Our PTAC team is no different. We understand the challenges that many businesses have faced this past year and are working hard to support you virtually. I want to take this opportunity to remind you of the ways we can assist your business with pursuing government contracts:
Government policy says that a portion of each federal spending dollar should be used to help small businesses. Federal agencies put this into practice by requiring that large prime contractors submit a plan along with their proposals demonstrating how they will utilize small businesses in the performance of each federal contract. Historically, these plans were … Continue reading Did You Know?… Threshold Changes for Small Business Sub Plans
A Des Moines freelance writing business found financial stability in the opening months of the pandemic after CIRAS helped it pursue and obtain a government contract.
Kristi Kenyon, owner of Copywriter+, said her company was roughly three years old when she met Justin Niceswanger, a government contracting specialist with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), at a networking event.
Before that, government contracting “wasn’t something that I even knew was a possibility” for writing jobs, Kenyon said.
Building a new federal courthouse in downtown Des Moines is much more complicated than signing the paperwork and pouring concrete.
“It comes with significant challenges,” said Elizabeth Campbell, director of Emerging Business Inclusion for Ryan Companies, the Minneapolis-based firm that landed the Des Moines courthouse’s three-year, $105 million contract.
One of them is the subcontracting.
Businesses often hear about how lucrative it is to get a “GSA Schedule” with the federal government. Here are a few tips to know if a GSA Schedule is right for you and your business, and if so, the next steps you can take.
A Sioux City electrical firm landed more than $190,000 in state contracts after their owners followed CIRAS advice to register as a vendor with the Iowa Department of Homeland Security.
Stephanie Schramm, office manager at Schramm Electric, said her company has a long history of dealing closely with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center. So that was the first place the Schramm family looked for answers in early 2020 when they had questions about how to register for business with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Did you know that as the client, you play a very important role in helping your counselor set up an effective BidMatch profile? The BidMatch system is a tool that PTAC counselors offer to their clients to help identify bid or proposal opportunities.
As with most things in life, feedback is important to the process.
If your company works anywhere within a Department of Defense supply chain (or hopes to), the new CMMC cybersecurity standard will soon be part of your life. Are you confused by the alphabet soup and uncertain about what it all means?
Here’s what you need to know:
Federal agencies buy a wide variety of products and services, but they’re required to try to purchase through specific sources before ordering from the open market.
For this month’s “Did You Know?” article, we’ll take a closer look at one of these mandatory sources: The AbilityOne Program. We’ll learn more about AbilityOne, including what products and services it makes available to agencies, what ways businesses can support its mission, and how businesses can benefit from the program.
We’re inviting you to learn more about a major part of CIRAS programming.
Ninety-four Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), including CIRAS, form a nationwide network of more than 600 dedicated professionals who work to help local businesses sell their products and services to government agencies.
If you’d like to know more about the network, we invite you to join a special webinar on Wednesday, September 16, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. to celebrate National PTAC Day.
Understanding your business doesn’t mean you don’t need help understanding government contracting.
ToolKeepers is a Fairfield company that uses high-density foam to make custom inserts that organize and protect tools (or other valuable objects) used in military and industrial settings. Clark Plummer, ToolKeepers’ director of strategic accounts, said the company long ago “recognized its ability to provide solutions to military and government organizations, but . . . needed help making connections with government purchasers and adapting products specifically to the needs of government organizations.”
Have you considered doing business or expanding your current business with the local government?
Municipalities (aka city governments) are often overlooked by companies considering government contracting. But many times, this is where the opportunity lies for contractors that target a specific geographic area, such as state, city, and county parameters.
There are so many changes going on in our daily lives and things are moving at such a rapid pace, it’s hard to keep up with all of the information.
In case you missed it, here is a synopsis of the recent government contracting-related changes.
There is no getting around it – the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and far-reaching effect on all of us.
The way we interact and do business has been forced to change with very little notice. One of our mantras at CIRAS is “working at the speed of the customer” because we truly do care about everyone we serve. To accommodate our unexpected new environment, we “re-calibrated” as quickly as possible to best meet the evolving needs of our clients.
It’s no surprise that there is a major boost in the procurement of personal protective equipment and medical supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the COVID-19 report on federal spending data from the Federal Procurement Data System, other industries are seeing an uptick in demand as well. The $2.2 trillion stimulus is allocating various agencies additional funds to address needs related to the pandemic, and it’s not all for medical supplies.
Last year, the SBA advised it had some changes in the works for the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and the Economically-Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certification programs. The full scope of those changes are scheduled to be announced June 30, but they will not go into effect until 30 days after that announcement. So keep an eye out for actual certification changes towards the very end of July 2020.
A federal disaster has recently been declared for the State of Iowa, allowing local, state and tribal authorities in Iowa to receive federal funding in response to COVID-19. This leaves many businesses wondering how they can get in on the action and provide goods/services during a disaster.
It’s time to begin thinking about spring floods and the emergency management responses that go with them. How can your company participate in these relief efforts? While many procurements are done by the local agencies affected by the disaster through their existing contracts, there is often a need for additional support. Here are various ways you can position your company for opportunities during a disaster.
A few months ago, a contractor with a history of selling to the government shared with me an interaction they had with a county employee. The conversation went something like this:
Contractor: “We’d like to have an opportunity to be considered for the next contract and be contacted the next time you go out for bids.”
County: “We’re not required to compete our orders, and we have a local provider we’re happy with.”
The response surprised the contractor. When the contractor met with me later, they asked me: Aren’t counties required to compete their orders like they do at the state and federal levels?
A year-old commercial and residential construction company is taking its first major steps into government contracting after CIRAS helped the company understand the intricacies of selling to the government.
Kimberley Construction was formed in September 2018 as an offshoot of Kimberley Development, a 41-year-old Ankeny home building company. Troy Sydow, project manager for the newer company, said the home developer realized last year that it had been turning away smaller upscale renovation jobs and decided to form a new division to capture that work.
Government contracting is about relationships. You have to know which government entities are in the market for the particular product or service that you provide, and they have to know you – where you are and exactly how you’re capable of helping them.
But how do you get in the game if you don’t understand the players?
For many people, opening a new calendar also means creating a new set of goals. This is the time of year when many of us resolve that we’re going to accomplish a few things that we know we need to do, such as lose weight, get healthier, and/or clean the basement.
At work, this clean-basement desire may translate into an effort to get more organized or learn about an area you don’t fully understand. We’d like to suggest that you make 2020 the year you get better informed about the world of government contracting. Are you ready to resolve that this is the year you’ll grow your company’s business with the government? If so, then the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is here to help.
A Carlisle advertising company that specializes in bringing brand marketing to transit buses credits a key portion of its business to the technical expertise of a CIRAS government contracting specialist.
Jeff Lamb, co-owner of Midwest Truck Advertising, said CIRAS performed a valuable service by checking over a bid proposal he submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation in late 2017. The fledgling company was competing with several other firms for an overarching contract to see which company would have the right to place advertising on 25 of Iowa’s 35 city bus systems.
We would like to announce that two new faces joined CIRAS at the end of 2019. (And watch this space for more staffing news in the days to come.)
Here are your brief introductions to the new CIRAS additions:
New years bring a time for new beginnings. To quote Charles Kettering, an inventor and the head of research for General Motors from 1920 to 1947, “Every time you tear a leaf off a calendar, you present a new place for new ideas.”
If CIRAS is a new idea for you, then why not start the new year by considering a few new topics?
Here are five ways that CIRAS can help your company grow in 2020:
Iowa’s leading organization of construction contractors will hold its annual meeting next month, and CIRAS plans to be there helping companies learn how to advance their businesses.
CIRAS is a sponsor of this year’s Annual Winter Conference of the Master Builders of Iowa (MBI). Founded in 1912, MBI is one of 89 chapters of the Associated General Contractors of America, the most influential and widely respected construction association in the country. The Iowa chapter’s annual gathering is scheduled for February 24-26 at the Prairie Meadows Event and Conference Center in Altoona.
Gift giving is often a standard business practice during this holiday season. However, you should beware if you are giving a gift to a public agency. Most states, as well as the federal government, have rules governing this practice.
Let’s explore the law that applies to our state, which is called the Iowa Gift Law.
Government contracting is a complicated and detailed process with many precise steps that must be followed. For companies that are new to the government sector, it sometimes can be overwhelming.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to practice before you submitted that first bid?
We thought so, too.
Subcontracting opportunities can be a lucrative avenue in the government sector, which allows businesses to participate in government contracting without dealing directly with the government.
Why subcontracting? The federal contracts that are awarded to prime contractors often come with subcontracting plans containing goals for doing a percentage of the work with small businesses.
No one will buy your product or service until they become convinced that it will meet their needs. But before that can happen, potential customers have to somehow learn that you exist and what you can offer. CIRAS wants to help with that. Next month’s “Meet the Buyers” event in Johnston is designed to be … Continue reading “Meet the Buyers” Builds Relationships
Surety bonds help small businesses win construction, supply, and service contracts by providing the customer with a guarantee the work will be completed. Many contracts require surety bonds, which are offered by surety companies. Becoming bondable is like applying for bank credit. The requirements include a review of the technical and managerial ability, financial statements, and credit resources of the small business. Small businesses often struggle to meet some (or all) of the minimum qualifications.
Did you know there is a program to help small businesses get started with bonding or increase their current bonding capacity?
Colleen Brabec believes CIRAS has made her smarter about government contracting. Brabec owns Mobilis Home Medical Equipment, a 17-person Council Bluffs company that sells wheelchairs, scooters, and related equipment throughout western Iowa and eastern Nebraska. Mobilis used to deliver equipment for U.S. Veterans Administration hospitals in Iowa and Nebraska, but the company lost that contract … Continue reading CIRAS Advice Makes Mobilis Home Medical Self-sufficient
FedBizOpps currently is the federal government’s website (www.fbo.gov) for posting all procurement opportunities with a value of more than $25,000.
By the end of next year, it will disappear. The system, along with several other government acquisition systems managed by the General Services Administration, are gradually being rolled into one new site.
If you’ve done any work in with the federal government (either as a vendor or grantee) you most likely have been required to register for a proprietary DUNS number through Dun & Bradstreet. The DUNS number, which was created in 1962, has been the official verification number for entities to register with the Federal Government since 1998 (once it was codified by the Federal Acquisition Regulation, aka FAR).
Summer is ending, which means parents everywhere are beginning to shop for Back To School. Have you ever considered what may be on the school’s shopping list?
For Mary Phelan, it all boils down to CIRAS being a sounding board she can trust.
Phelan, program manager for government and defense at Polo Custom Products in Monticello, has been working closely with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for roughly two years.
No, this isn’t an article about spring water or hot tubs! “SPA” stands for “Simplified Purchase Agreement,” a method of purchasing set up by the Government Publishing Office (GPO) and available to use by various federal agencies for their printing needs. As an alternative to relying on the GPO for soliciting their opportunities, agencies typically find SPA procedures to be more relaxing (see what I did there?).
The government contracting journey can be very challenging. Companies have to do their homework and not rest on the notion that, if they are registered on SAM or state/local agencies, they will be “discovered” by government customers. The registration system is a useful tool for a government agency to conduct market research, bid notifications, etc. But this is NOT a game of, “They’re supposed to buy from us because we’re a set-aside, a TSB, etc.”
A Davenport security company expects to take in more than $17 million over the next five years from new government contracts it landed after the firm’s newly hired business development person spent roughly five months working closely with CIRAS.
The North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS (pronounced “Nakes”), was developed under the direction and guidance of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). It’s the standard way that federal statistical agencies classify business establishments for the collection, tabulation, presentation, and analysis of statistical data describing the U.S. economy.
CIRAS government contracting specialists have earned praised from their peers for having a tremendous impact both on the Iowa economy and on the communities where they live.
Theisen Cleaners was born in 2016 when Jamie Theisen, after many years spent cleaning houses for herself and various employers, decided to launch a new residential cleaning service. Her husband, Joe Theisen, eventually joined her. By 2017, the couple was thinking of expanding the effort, possibly by branching out and cleaning area businesses.
The government sector is a vast ocean of possibility for Iowa businesses, but the waters can run treacherous if you don’t understand how it works.
To help with that, CIRAS experts have created a daylong training event to help Iowa companies take a deep dive into the world of government contracting and delve into advanced teaming strategies for business development.
Life began moving faster after Betty Garcia got the phone call.
It was the fall of 2017, and a Des Moines-area produce company was planning to launch a line of ready-to-eat meals. The company was wondering whether Tortilleria Sonora would be interested in supplying tortillas. First, there were a few questions about the business. Would Garcia mind filling out a questionnaire?
If not, you might be missing important contracting opportunities. Many state and local organizations use purchasing consortia to obtain goods and services.
A purchasing consortium – also referred to as cooperative purchasing, or a “GPO” (Group Purchasing Organization) – is a mechanism by which multiple organizations with similar purchasing needs band together to better leverage their buying power and achieve more favorable terms and pricing from vendors. Such consortia also reduce the workload for their members by eliminating duplication of effort in issuing solicitations and managing contracts for the same good/service.
In the beginning, it was the pursuit of higher peaks that sent Randy Brandt to CIRAS.
Brandt’s employer, Claim Technologies Incorporated (CTI) of Des Moines, audits self-funded health plans to check for overpayments and administrative oversight. The company has worked with all sizes of private companies, school districts, and municipalities, as well as 16 state governments. But before 2018, the firm had only had two federal contracts.
Over the weekend, the partial government shutdown passed into record-setting territory in terms of length. The CIRAS PTAC staff knows that this likely is causing some elevated blood pressure among clients which existing government contracts, and we’d like to do what we can to help.
So how worried should you be?
Success in government contracting requires that you convince a government agency that you’re the best choice to fill any particular need. To get there, you have to know how the system works, who to deal with, what the rules are, and how to cast yourself in the best possible light.
CIRAS is planning a special event this spring to help you understand all of that.
It’s hard to believe that 2018 is rapidly coming to a close. In a few weeks, we will be celebrating the New Year!
Do you ever take time to reflect on your successes and failures? I encourage you, during this month, to think back to goals you set for 2018. Did you achieve them? Did you fall short? What lessons have you learned?
Justin Niceswanger has joined CIRAS as a government contracting specialist with the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). He will be based out of a CIRAS office in Clive and will serve business owners who are located inside the city of Des Moines.
Selling your product or service to the federal government can be a confusing prospect: You catch a glimpse of what appears to be a lucrative future sitting on the horizon, but the path to that goal is blocked by a confusing mass of questions that need to be answered before you can get there.
All it takes is a few good seconds to make a positive first impression and grow your business.
However, those few seconds can require hours of preparation to look natural, confident, and enthusiastic. And even then, it doesn’t always work. For example, at most meetings, conferences, and networking events, people are asked to introduce themselves and talk about their company. This is their time to shine! But many miss their chance at free advertising because they are uncomfortable or have trouble explaining what they do or sell.
For 33 years, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) have helped expand the number of small businesses that successfully compete for and win federal, state, and local government contracts. This month, PTACs from around the country are coming together for one special day to celebrate the success of the tens of thousands of small businesses who have benefitted from training and technical assistance delivered by their local PTACs.
A small Maquoketa company that sells dog training equipment around the world is boosting production and expanding its product offerings—all after CIRAS helped the company arrange important testing and other steps to get it off the ground.
There are many things affecting your business that you can’t control. Did you know that your personal attitude is something you can control? Your attitude affects the way you approach people and circumstances in business. Choosing to approach potential customers positively, confidently, enthusiastically, and with a helpful attitude – even when you’re tired, stressed, or frustrated – may help improve your sales and grow your business.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is forecasting a 35% chance of above-normal hurricane activity in the Atlantic for the 2018 hurricane season (June 1 – November 30). The disastrous 2017 hurricane season had companies scrambling to position themselves for a piece of the “recovery” pie.
Steve Belland and Moe Abu-Nameh have gone the extra mile to give federal government agencies and their prime contractors a reason to work with the duo’s Hiawatha trucking company.
Now, the Iowans just need to find the right match.
Samantha Ferm has joined CIRAS as a government contracting specialist with the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). She will be based out of Iowa City and will serve the southeast portion of the state.
Terrence Thames wants to play a larger role in his profession and his community.
That’s one of the reasons Thames (at right in photo above) is pressing to grow his small Des Moines advertising agency into a major creative provider for private brands and public organizations around the country.
Have you ever thought of selling your goods and services to an Iowa public school system? A lot of money is spent in education, and districts take their spending responsibilities very seriously. There are 367 school districts throughout Iowa. Selling to a school district may be a potential opportunity for your company, but first you need to know your customer.
Government contracting is a byzantine business—a long and plodding trek through a jungle filled with complicated regulation, documentation requirements, and new marketing challenges.
Sound impossible? Not if you have help.
One key market for selling your products/services involves local governments – the host of towns, cities, and counties located throughout Iowa.
Normally, the first step in doing business with local governments is to contact the municipal clerk, the county auditor, or the city Procurement Office/county Purchasing Department. This can be accomplished by personally visiting their offices to learn about their bid opportunities. If that’s not practical, you can research their websites for notices and submit your bid online/email. Or, you can simply email your company capability statement to each government’s Point of Contact (POC).
It was a quest for help with the paperwork that sent Patrick Richards to the Flying J truck stop in Avoca.
In 2016, Richards was in the beginning stages of creating what would become Avoca Surfaces, a countertop business owned by Richards, his son, and another father-son team. Lori Holste, executive director of the Western Iowa Development Association, suggested that Richards meet with Andy Alexander, a government contracting specialist with CIRAS’ Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). And a long-term partnership was born.
If you’re a government contractor, you may have recently received a suspicious-looking email with the subject line “ALERT: Bank Account Change Detected for COMPANY NAME / DUNS / CAGE in the U.S. Government’s System for Award Management (SAM)”?
The first thing you need to know is that the email was legit.
Are you a business in Construction, IT, Manufacturing, Manufacturing Support or Professional Services who is interested in strengthening its Government Contracts footprint? Are you interested in connecting with government agencies situated on the Rock Island Arsenal?
Then you should be at the 11th Annual Midwest Government Contracting Symposium, May 23 and 24 in Moline, Illinois.
Attention veterans, business owners, and veteran business owners in the Cedar Rapids area: CIRAS would like to help fill both your minds and bodies on April 11.
CIRAS is hosting a special Veterans Breakfast on that day beginning at 7:30 a.m. at the Kirkwood Hotel in Cedar Rapids – immediately preceding the Corridor Business Development Expo.
Are you showing potential customers the best version of your company?
Capability statements are a key component of any government marketing plan and should be one of your main marketing materials for government customers. Capability statements act as a resume of your business, including all important information that a potential government customer would rely on for market research.
CIRAS projects have a big impact on Iowa and its communities.
Over the last five years, we’ve helped Iowa companies invest, expand sales and avoid costs to the tune of more than $2 billion.
At most meetings, conferences, and networking events people are asked to introduce themselves and talk about their company. This is their time to shine – it’s like free advising! But because they are uncomfortable or have trouble explaining what they do or sell, they miss a perfect opportunity to position themselves for success. The answer to this is to have a prepared elevator speech.
Government contracting is a byzantine business—a long and plodding trek through a jungle filled with complicated regulation, documentation, and new marketing challenges.
Sound impossible? It’s not. But no smart explorer launches a trip through the jungle without finding a good guide. CIRAS exists to serve as that guide for Iowa businesses. Many Iowa businesses have known this for a long time.
What Iowans may not know, however, is how much knowledge and experience is available to back up the CIRAS government contracting team if the way proves complicated for your particular business.
Did you know that CIRAS has access to several training resources, systems, and databases that can assist you and your business with government contracting free of charge? We’ve also just acquired access to a new system that allows us to see city/county/state spending data, similar to how we can see federal data.
Here’s a recap of some of these resources:
It was a quest for help with the paperwork that sent Patrick Richards to the Flying J truck stop in Avoca.
In 2016, Richards was in the beginning stages of creating what would become Avoca Surfaces, a countertop business owned by Richards, his son, and another father-son team. Lori Holste, executive director of the Western Iowa Development Association, suggested that Richards meet with Andy Alexander, a government contracting specialist with CIRAS’ Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). And a long-term partnership was born.
Small businesses that sell products or services to the government received a new tool for growth last fall when the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched its new All-Small Mentor-Protégé Program.
The program, which expanded on capabilities that previously existed for Certified 8(a) disadvantaged businesses, essentially put all small businesses on a higher level of competiveness by making them viable bidders for larger-scale federal contracts.
As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know.
Thanks to Google, online forums, and social networking sites, a lot of people will tell you that old saying is out of date. Our experience at CIRAS is that it is more true than ever. Searching the web for solutions to problems is great, but sometimes it is the personal connection that makes it real, and helps you implement real change within your business.
It seems that one term is hot on the minds of government contractors these days: CYBERSECURITY!!
A quick, easy way to create your elevator speech is to review your capability statement, drawing ideas from your core capabilities and differentiators. Or you could perform the following steps:
Hope you and yours have a joyous holiday season. Here’s a message from our director:
Did you know that at the end of 2016 and in early 2017 there were map changes to the qualified HUBZone areas throughout the U.S., including Iowa?
Iowa has a number of counties that have increased areas that are now HUBZone qualified!
Kristy Carrier looked around one day and realized she was drowning.
We make some really cool things in Iowa.
Most of them (like a robotic system from Acieta) aren’t very practical gifts. But when you produce as much as we do here in Iowa, there are tons of great gifts.
CIRAS government contracting specialist Andy Alexander was eating breakfast in downtown Onawa one morning in 2014 when he suddenly came face-to-face with the aspirations of a Monona County sheriff’s deputy.
“He walked in and wanted to know if that was my government car out there,” Alexander recalls. “I thought he was going to give me a ticket.”
Connections created through CIRAS networking events and hands-on assistance have helped a Cedar Rapids-based recruitment company grow during the past year.
Express Employment Professionals is a full-service staffing agency specializing in the industrial, administrative, IT, and engineering fields. Michele Oswood, owner of the Cedar Rapids franchise, said her company’s client base has doubled since she purchased the business in February 2016.
Many government contracting professionals operate at arm’s length so they can remain unbiased and avoid the appearance of impropriety. But building relationships is critical to securing government business, especially on smaller-dollar purchases that don’t require public bidding. Face-to-face meetings are the perfect way to establish a relationship with an agency.
Sometimes, if the business is too big to handle, you just need to find a partner.
C.J. Sparks came to the Iowa Events Center on Thursday get to the lay of the land.
“My company doesn’t currently do anything in government contracting, but we always talked about it,” said Sparks, head of a software firm named The Sparks Solution. “This seemed like a good way to get started.”
For one Iowa restaurant and catering business, the recipe for success so far has included a side of government contracts.
B Fabulous BBQ in Slater has cooked up nearly $100,000 in business from public-sector clients over the last two years, said Deanna Faubus, who owns the company with her husband, Billy. “For a small joint like us, that’s a significant amount of sales.”
The government must keep going, in good times and in bad.
Many small businesses that are involved in government contracting have learned that this stability means federal, state, and local government agencies can be a tremendous and steady source of income. And it’s a market that exists for more than just major-league defense contractors. Small business owners are sometimes astonished when they realize they are capable of supplying a product or service that the government needs.
CIRAS’ next Iowa Vendor Conference is scheduled for Thursday, August 10 in Des Moines.
Wondering whether it’s worth your time? Don’t just take our word for it. Here are some of the reviews from business leaders who attended last year’s conference:
Iowa officials are working to streamline and improve a state preference program for small businesses to make it easier to understand and quicker for companies to access.
Shawn Frey saved everything the speakers handed out at last August’s Iowa Vendor Conference, eventually creating his own training binder filled with various tips and shortcuts for navigating the byzantine world of government contracting.
It was valuable stuff.
Attending that conference, an annual event sponsored by CIRAS’ Procurement Technical Assistance Program, “definitely was a catalyst for me learning to talk to government entities about tool-kitting,” Frey said.
Nearly one year later, Frey, director of business development for Tool Keepers Foam and Etch, a tool kit manufacturing company in Fairfield, has grown more aggressive in pursuing government sales. Subcontract work that used to come in re-actively is now being proactively pursued. Tool Keepers has developed key relationships and made connections that they expect to lead to valuable opportunities in the future.
CIRAS’ mission is to improve Iowa industry through research-proven best practices. To do that, we have to stay up-to-date on what’s out there and what works.
Here’s a wrap-up of just some of the things we’ve learned over the past year:
CIRAS government contracting specialists know a lot about Iowa businesses. Here are a few questions and answers to help you learn a little more about them:
Mark Baker eventually concluded that government contracting was worth a shot.
No, the CEO of Des Moines-based Endless Supplies Corporation acknowledged, it was probably not going to become his company’s primary business strategy. Becker still has difficulty reconciling the fast-moving, products-always-changing world of information technology with sometimes-lengthy government procurement processes. But after a full day at the Iowa Events Center last fall spent hopping between educational presentations and asking questions of the speakers, Becker concluded that Endless Supplies ought to at least get certified so his company can show that it’s ready and able to do business with the government.
CIRAS government contracting specialists know a lot about Iowa businesses. Here are a few questions and answers to help you learn a little more about them:
Hari Nallure views his relationship with the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) sort of like he’s found a trusted advisor.
You hear it a lot around Iowa:
“I want to double in size in the next 5 years.”
“I just need one new OEM customer.”
Mark Baker eventually concluded that government contracting is worth a shot.
No, the CEO of Des Moines-based Endless Supplies Corporation acknowledged, it’s probably not going to be his company’s primary business strategy. Becker still has difficulty reconciling the fast-moving, products-always-changing world of information technology with sometimes-lengthy government procurement processes. But after a full day at the Iowa Events Center spent hopping between educational presentations and asking questions of the speakers, Becker concluded that Endless Supplies ought to at least get certified so his company can show that it’s ready and able to do business with the government.
AMES, Iowa – The numbers are in, and they continue to show a strong value received by Iowa businesses who have built a relationship with Iowa State University.
Want to better understand how to do business in the government sector? The third annual Iowa Vendor Conference on August 23 at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines is a full-day event that can help you and leaders in your business tap into the wealth of opportunities that federal, state, and local government contracting offers. Through a variety of workshops, you can learn to identify new potential customers, find opportunities called Simplified Acquisitions, actually understand the various questions in www.SAM.gov registration, and network with key contracting personnel, buyers, and exhibitors. Keynote speaker Guy Timberlake, chief visionary officer and CEO of The American Small Business Coalition, will discuss “Getting Your Foot in the Door” during the conference and will provide a free half-day “Competitive Intelligence Bootcamp” on August 24.
Want to get the most out of CIRAS’ government contracting expertise? A new training schedule launched in January provides companies a step-by-step guide for getting the maximum benefit from CIRAS offerings.
From the beginning, when Jeanie Waters launched 3rd Degree Screening in Council Bluffs in 2012, she knew that its success would require both commercial and government contracts. Waters, whose company provides background checks, drug tests, and field investigation services for clients worldwide, turned to CIRAS for help with the government part.
“The overall value [of CIRAS] is in learning the process and having educated support throughout,” Waters said. “You keep building on what you know and you build off your CIRAS representative.”
The specialists in CIRAS’ Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) exist to help Iowa businesses understand what it takes to sell to the government.
One of the key things necessary to succeed in to government contracting is a capability statement. A good one includes the following information:
By all accounts, it was a successful first date.
Mary Connell, president of Clinton-based Air Control/ACI Fabricators, attended an annual Midwest NDIA (National Defense Industrial Association) conference because CIRAS asked her to in its capacity as the company’s “matchmaker.” And she found a new business opportunity.
Small businesses are expected to always have a place in government contracting.
United States policy, per the Small Business Act and other subsequent legislation, says the maximum practical opportunity must be provided to all small business categories. The president annually establishes government-wide goals declaring the minimum percentage of prime contracts that should go to businesses in the following categories:
(ICYMI, here’s another in CIRAS’ series of “Did You Know?” informational guides authored by the experts with our Procurement Technical Assistance Program. Their purpose is to help guide businesses through the world of government contracting. Check the end of the story for contract information.)
Did you know that the U.S. Small Business Administration is working on a new program that will allow all types of small businesses to have a mentor protégé agreement (MPA) and potential joint ventures with other businesses, even large businesses?
Have you ever wonder what it would be like to sell to the government? Wonder who to contact or how that process works?
If so, you may want to attend CIRAS’ 2nd annual Iowa Vendor Conference, which is coming up next week. It’ll be April 7 in Ankeny from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Government Contracting, or stated more simply “selling to the government” at any level; Federal, State and Local, is enough to make many business owners cringe at the thought. “Too much red tape, good ole boy’s club” are some common thoughts, but all in all it is many times thought of as being a market that is just not worth the perceived headache.
While selling to the government, just like any business endeavor, may not be for everyone, it is certainly a market to consider if you want to diversify your revenue stream. To assist in the initial consideration of the market, we would like to take a stab at some of the myths surrounding working with the government. Some are promoting working with the government, some provide a more “realistic view” and some are taken straight from the government’s mouth…but all will provide an honest perspective that will help you make informed decisions about working with these customers.
FYI, WE’RE SKIPPING CIRAS DIGEST TODAY IN THE INTEREST OF SHARING ANOTHER TIP FROM BETH WHITE FOR NAVIGATING THE WORLD OF GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING. HERE’S BETH:
Did you know that there is a littler known agency within the Department of Defense that provides food and other household products for military families, with the major mission to improve their quality of life?
(ED. NOTE: CIRAS’ government contracting specialists try to offer their clients weekly tips for boosting business. This latest is from contracting specialist Beth White.)
Did You Know that there are a lot of ways to do business with an agency other than just waiting for a bid opportunity?