Doing Business 2.0 Tackles How to Do Business with the Government

September 5, 2013

On August 14th, a panel of government officials presented local entrepreneurs with insights on working with government. This panel, part of the monthly Doing Business 2.0 seminar hosted by WDCEP, included topics of certifications, federal contracting, and the procurement process.

Robert Summers, the interim Director of the Department of Small and Local Business (DSLBD), spoke on the local business certification and procurement process. Summers described the Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) program and the opportunities. The Business Certification Division determines the eligibility to become a CBE Summers said. The five step process is to attend a pre-certification orientation, begin an online application, schedule one-on-one counseling, attend a one-on-one consultation, and a determination by DSLBD. The determination should come between 30 and 45 days Summers said.

Ralph Buchanan from the United States Small Business Association (SBA) presented the role of SBA in federal contracting. SBA negotiates to keep 23% of government contracts given to small businesses said Buchanan. In addition to these negotiations, SBA offers counseling and training resources for small businesses. SBA also certifies businesses to partake in programs such as Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) and the 8(a) Business Development Program Buchanan said.

Judith Stackhouse from the Small Business Utilization Center at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) outlined the federal contracting process. Stackhouse spoke on the importance of determining a market niche and researching the agencies that may have a high demand for that product. Utilizing to determine who is buying the product is essential Stackhouse said. Working with groups such as GSA provides a number of benefits such as credibility, visibility, and the earnings potential. Stackhouse also warned of the paperwork and auditing requirements necessary to working with GSA.

David Bell, the president of Bell Architects, spoke on the tips and process of becoming a CBE and in working in a HUBZone. CBE’s have access to prime contracts, sub contracts, reduced competition, and resources such as business consulting assistance. To become a CBE, a business needs to compile all of the appropriate information for the DSLBD. Complying with First Source Employment Agreements is one of the major challenges Bell said.

Additionally, HUBZones encourage economic stability and receive prime contracts from the government. HUBZones are areas that are not very well used. With HUBZones, sources may limit competition. The main challenges are to compile the information for SBA.

Doing Business 2.0 panels are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 575 7th Street, NW, Washington DC 20004 thanks to the continued support of Venable, LLP.

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