Pennsylvania is one of the most highly compensated states when it comes to federal government spending.
Contracts alone have averaged nearly $18 billion per year over the last five years, according to Business Journal analysis of government spending. The commonwealth has been No. 5 or No. 6 among states in each of the last five years for federal contracts.
That’s not including grants, loans and other financial assistance that pours in each year.
With all that money already coming in, how does a small business seeking to diversify its revenue streams position itself to compete for government opportunities?
For all areas of government selling, start with the procurement technical assistance centers. Funded by the Department of Defense, PTACs have been around since 1985, when Congress authorized a national program to expand the number of businesses capable of participating in the government marketplace.
PTACs are administered nationally by state governments and universities, local economic development corporations and other area institutions. In Central Pennsylvania, the go-to sources are the Susquehanna Economic Development Association Council of Governments, or SEDA-COG, and the Southeast Pennsylvania PTAC, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers within the University of Pennsylvania.
Hundreds each year
“There is always a certain number that would like to do business with the government,” said Clyde Stoltzfus, director of the government marketing assistance program at the University of Pennsylvania. “We are one of the only games in town to help train people for the federal contracting arena.”
He estimates about 75 percent of small businesses want to, but not all are qualified to participate.
The PTACs utilize the SBDC network and participate in business conferences through national organization to market the free services to both big and small businesses. They also do a lot of local outreach through chambers of commerce.
In his 10-county region (see “Local government assistance,” this page), Stoltzfus and his team serve about 700 to 800 clients each year. That number tends to tick up when the economy slows down, he said.