Attending the incredible Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce Procurement Conference Small Business event today at the Universities at Shady Grove took more than determination and will, it took the ability to brave a severe weather alert that turned the streets of the metro area into a rain soaked mess and made the trip to Montgomery County very difficult; however, the event continued on for those small business owners who braved the elements.
It was an incredible day of information including a session from the United States Department of Homeland Security which was moderated by Kevin Boshears, Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The session included valuable information that was provided by Sharon M. Davis, Small Business Advocate, Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization for the Department of Homeland Security and Melissa "Lisa" Jenkins, Small Business Specialist, Transportation Security Administration.
Leaving Petworth at 6:30 a.m., the high winds and rain created an ominous weather environment as the severe flood alert from The Weather Channel app said that there was a severe flood alert for Montgomery County. With dark clouds, heavy rain and high winds, the weather might have stopped some people; but successful small business owners do not become successful small business owners by being deterred by bad weather. Arriving for the first breakout session with Homeland Security in room 1052 found every seat taken in a capacity filled room as Boshears, Jenkins, and Davis gave a brilliant presentation that received an ovation from the small business leaders who attended the session. The session taught small business owners how to connect with the federal government to get contacts for their small businesses. There were 24 powerful sessions during the conference.
Boshears dispensed with the confusing rhetoric and jargon that makes the business of government contract procurement so confounding and downright muddleheaded to many small business owners. In plain English and clear delivery, Boshears explained exactly what small business owners need to do get government contracts. After his presentation it was easy to see why Homeland Security ranks number one among government agencies most successful in helping small business owners gain contracts.
In his presentation, “10 Current Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Small Business Opportunities,” Boshears resembled a wise, grey haired, college professor sharing information with a packed class of college students. “DHS start year was 2003. Before the 22 government agencies came together to create DHS it was like a maze. We have streamlined the process to help small business owners with government contracts that buy the goods and services for the customers. Most of our contracting options are done with 1400 companies. About 10,000 of those companies are small businesses. We do market research. I am not using any fancy terms or jargon. I am telling you the way it really works to get government contacts,” Boshears said.
The fact that government contracts are public information gave the small business owners insight into the importance of research and doing homework when applying for a small business government contract. Jenkins kindly reminded the small business owners to do their homework and good research. She said that if she had an example of two small business owners who came to her for a government contract she would look at a well-researched and well prepared application as opposed to an ill prepared and poor researched application. She asked the enthralled attentive class which of the two they thought would get the contract. The small business owners unanimously told Jenkins that it would be the small business owner who had done the proper homework and research. “I am your friend,” Jenkins said. “I love my job and I love helping small business owners,” she said.
Boshears, Davis, and Jenkins were surrounded by small business owners after the session. Boshears was honest in his assessment of what small business owners need to do to procure government contracts, “You have to be persistent. Human beings input the information that you provide. I’ll be honest, it is possible that an email address is recorded incorrectly. You have to contact us. If you don’t hear from us maybe information was recorded inaccurately. Be persistent,” Boshears said. Davis agreed with her colleague. “I can process an application in 10 days if there are no problems. If I find a problem and return the application for correction then it is 30 days for corrections, 30 days for review, so you are looking at 60 days,” she said. However, the point was reiterated that well prepared and well researched applications stand the best chance of being approved.
A federal government contract can save a small business from bankruptcy or closing. Donald Trump was given assistance by President Jimmy Carter when the Trump business empire was in danger in the 1970’s. All small business owners need programs and information to make their small business a success. The MCCCMD Procurement Conference brought together 24 brilliant sessions. There were too many for one article. In the series of six articles that have been prepared to provide full coverage of the history, sponsors, and success of the govConNet network there will be a greater discussion of all of the organizations responsible for the success of the conference. Stay tuned.
To learn more about the programs, sponsors, and participants at the event today go to: www.mcccmd.com.