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Government Contracts: PTAC
The center now requires all its contractors to sit for an extensive three-hour overview of the federal and state procurement systems, Procurement 101: How to Become a Government Contractor. There will be 12 sessions this year, including four in
"We had always done a short overview before, and it just wasn't enough information for companies to realize the broadness of what it takes to sell to the government," said Pamela Vanderlaan-Poort, director of the center. "The classes give potential clients a good realization of the commitment it is going to take."
Overall, the volume of government contracts appears to be rising, even if the total dollar amount isn't. ServCorp Inc., a 3M wholesale distributor in
"It's the most beneficial when we're challenged with a situation where we don't know the internal workings of the military or the government," said Ryan DeWard, Unique Truck
The staff at the center encourages these types of relationships. It nominated Unique Truck
"When I first met them three summers ago, I said, 'I'm going to be very upfront with you — you need to communicate with us often,'" said Vanderlaan-Poort. "This guy started out calling me five times a day, and he quickly became a successful contractor."
With a 14-county coverage area and more than 200 companies in its database, the center staff does not have the time to seek out client needs, she explained. However, many of the program's services are automated. The center contracts with a Texas-based firm to match bids to member companies and alert them to new opportunities in a daily e-mail. There is also an exhaustive search option in the solicitation portal, which aggregates 1,100 different buying activity Web sites.
"It really cuts down on the amount of time a company has to invest daily in searching for procurements," said Vanderlaan-Poort.
The portal also provides bid and purchase history for each solicitation.
"It's really more of an encyclopedia to me," said Martha Herman, procurement specialist for ServCorp. "I get a lot of research from them. I find the price and go from there. They advise me along the way."
Perhaps the greatest service for most companies is the center's role as an entry point to government contracting.
"There is a lot of rigmarole involved in becoming a certified contractor," said Rolf Metcalf of Metcalf Machine in
The center, which is housed at Muskegon Area First at
The Department of Defense recently announced a grant to the center for $216,315 for the current fiscal year. The state matched those funds.