A business owner who believes the federal, state or local government could use his product or service often has little clue about how and where to make a pitch.
Gil Torres found himself in this situation when he purchased Sigma Science in 2013 and wanted to expand the Los Alamos company’s reach beyond the work it did providing risk management and environmental safety and health services for Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.
Torres needed specific certifications to bid on certain government contracts. He began his search on the Small Business Administration website, where he discovered the New Mexico Small Business Development Center network’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program.
PTAP is a federally and state-funded organization that helps small businesses obtain certifications and develop the capabilities and sophistication needed to compete for government contracts.
Torres requested help from Elaine Palin, the PTAP adviser based in Santa Fe, to obtain 8(a) certification as a disadvantaged business enterprise based on his financial qualifications and ethnicity. He also wanted information about bid matching services and counseling to help him market his company to the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Six months after embarking on the process, Torres received 8(a) certification.
“Although we have not obtained any new contracts yet, our overall revenue has increased by greater than 25 percent due to increased assignments at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories,” he said.
“We believe the 8(a) certification will help us expand our core capabilities into other Department of Energy facilities, such as the Nevada Test Site and Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” Torres said. “Our existing contracts have helped us to maintain 10 full-time core staff” and provide work for independent contractors.
PTAP has helped more than 2,000 businesses like Sigma Science since its inception in 2009. The organization offers seminars and individual counseling to help clients become better vendors. PTAP services are free of charge.
When a prospective client first visits a PTAP office, for instance, she receives information about its services, including individual counseling and training in all aspects of government contracting. PTAP offers Bid Match — a data-mining service that links clients to potential opportunities based on a profile that specifies what products or services the business can provide. Relevant opportunities are delivered directly to the client’s email.
PTAP advisers typically inquire how long the client has been in business. While two years is the usual minimum for federal contracts, not all levels of government are so stringent, and new tech businesses aren’t subject to the same restrictions. Advisers then determine how financially stable the business is, as this suggests how likely it is to fulfill contracts.
The client can sign up for further help with federal certifications, for a review of her statement of qualifications, or for assistance performing market research.
PTAP advisers work statewide with offices in Las Cruces, Alamogordo, Clovis and Santa Fe, in addition to three offices in Albuquerque.
For more information about PTAP and access to a wide variety of resources related to government procurement, visit nmptap.org.
(Wendy Ederer is state director of the Procurement Technical Assistance Program. Finance New Mexico is a public service initiative to assist individuals and businesses with obtaining skills and funding resources for their business. To learn more, go to FinanceNewMexico.org.)