Getting base contracts can be rewarding
By Matt Shaw
Published in News on January 18, 2004 11:03 PM
ATLANTIC BEACH -- Wayne County businesses may be ignoring Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, merely because they're worried about getting snared in red tape.
But some assistance is available to help businesses navigate through the bureaucratic mazes and market their goods or services to the military or other federal agencies.
"It takes time and, yeah, it can be a hassle, but once you get through it, you will have a lot less competition for contracts because a lot of companies will have fallen by the wayside," Dave Lamoureux told the Wayne County Economic Development Commission during its retreat this weekend.
Lamoureaux, who has almost 30 years experience in government purchasing and contracting, works for a Procurement Technical Assistance Center. North Carolina has six of these centers, funded by the state and U.S. Department of Defense, that help companies do business with the state and federal governments.
Last year, the six centers assisted N.C. companies in securing more than $734 million in contracts, Lamoureaux said. About $230 million of those were for eastern North Carolina companies.
The center's primary work is one-on-one with companies that want government work, he said. That involves securing the codes, permits and ID numbers that will be required and then registering the companies with the agencies that might be interested in their work.
Most contracts are advertised through e-mail or Internet sites, he said. Getting that work involves a lot of homework and will take patience. Some companies will get 80 percent of the way through qualifying for contracts and then quit, deciding it's too much work, he said.
But the companies that perserve can profit. For example, many contracts give preferential treatment to companies that are owned by minorities, women or the disabled, he said.
Or bidding may only be open to companies that are located within historically underutilized business zones, also called "hub zones," areas that have been identified as economically disadvantaged. One such area includes part of downtown Goldsboro, while another includes a section of LaGrange.
EDC Director Chuck Allen has seen that pay off for a local company. Phoenix Construction Associates Inc. recently won a contract for work on a portion of Seymour Johnson's fence, he said. Allen's company couldn't even bid for the work because it wasn't located inside the hub zone; Phoenix is.
Wayne Community College President Ed Wilson asked what type of contracts are available.
In 2003, many of the contracts were for machine work and construction, Lamoureaux said. Also, a lot of information technology, computer consulting and software development is contracted out. Manufacturing is an underdeveloped market, at least in North Carolina.
Many smaller companies can get work as subcontractors, he added.
For more information on hub zones, go to www.sba.gov/hubzone. Users can enter street addresses and find out if they are in hubzones, or they can look at maps that show the zones.
More information on the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers can be found at the Small Business and Technology Development Center's site, www.sbtdc.org. Look under "services" for "government procurement."
The state has devised another way to bring businesses and the miltary together -- TeamNC.com.
The website, begun by N.C. Global TransPark Authority, is a way to market North Carolina companies to both other businesses and government agencies.
How it works is that companies sign up and post information about their goods or services, said David Edwards, director of the GTP's education and training center. The website then matches those against requests posted on 60 federal and state databases.
TeamNC.com's goal is to find North Carolina firms work at the military bases in the eastern part of the state, including Seymour Johnson, he said. The base's procurement officers have been excited and supportive of the concept, he added.
As of Saturday, the website had information for contracts for construction of a live fire training maze at Fort Bragg, a bathhouse building at a campground in western North Carolina, and installation of telephone equipment at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, among other projects.
The website also includes many templates for contracts, accounting and legal forms, and other information that's useful to businesses, he said.
One benefit of encouraging these types of partnerships could be the N.C. bases might be better protected during the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure review, Edwards said. One BRAC criteria is a consideration of how the economy would be affected by a base closure or downsizing.
For more information, go to www.TeamNC.com.
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