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What happens when Uncle Sam does business development and team-building for small federal contractors? Umm...

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Sunday, April 28, 2013

What happens when Uncle Sam does business development and team-building for small federal contractors? Apparently nothing.

That's my takeaway based on what a Miami newspaper is saying about a recent effort by local SBA and DHS activities to build teams for a "live" opportunity worth "several hundred million dollars."

Here's the situation. SBA Miami got together with DHS on an opportunity and planned to host a mandatory-participation meeting aimed at helping small companies build consortium's (sounds like 8(a) joint ventures) to go after this opportunity based in Southern Florida. They were pushing the collective approach under SBA's assumption "it would be too much for them [8(a) companies] to pursue alone."

So what happened?

Uncle Sam, in the form of SBA Miami and DHS, said "I want you!" to 8(a) small businesses in the area and, well, nobody showed up. Actually, a few companies showed up but they were not 8(a) and therefore were not eligible for the opportunity the article said. The fact no one qualified under the 8(a) Business Development Program made an appearance is not only interesting, it's downright laughable. It makes me harken back to conversations I had recently with contracting officers at multiple agencies about those abandoned opportunities on FedBizOpps to which folks (small businesses) are not responding for various reasons, but that's another story.

So what did happen?

Did 8(s) companies in the Homestead area see this as a "gift horse" or maybe they know something about the state of the opportunity such as incumbency or a demanding, never-satisfied customer. I wonder if SBA collaborated with any of the local business and professional organizations to get the word out? Did they have any conversations with industry prior to scheduling this opportunity event? Maybe to check the barometer from a level of interest standpoint?

Does it sound like I'm throwing SBA under the proverbial bus? I'm not and here's why.

Of all of the 8(a) companies in existence (DSBS shows 492 active 8(a) companies in Florida) none of them made the meeting. How many 8(a) companies were registered and just blew off the event because gee whiz, we've never seen that happen before (one of the major fault's of our industry). It happens more often than not. If you were registered, did you call to say you weren't coming? Maybe tell SBA it was a waste of time and why? That would have been good feedback if it were the case.

For whatever the reason(s) the target audience did a "no-show" and what happened does not help the overall cause of small federal contractors, not just the one's with socioeconomic designations. We are already accused of being fickle, disinterested, unable to make meaningful contributions (without some large company behind us) and that sort of stuff. Unless SBA completely muffed this one  this no-show is another black eye for small federal contractors.

I would actually love to learn more about this one. If you are one of the folks with insight and care to share, I would appreciate it.

For the record, SBA Miami says they are going to give it another shot, this time with an opportunity coming out of SOUTHCOM. Let's see if everyone involved can make a better showing this time around. Literally.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."


Tags:  8(a)  consortium  DHS  miami  opportunity  SBA 

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