Nearly 300 people – representing 145 small businesses – got face-to-face with the buyers of 59 government agencies and prime contractors at an event hosted by the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).
The Small Business Industry Day was sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA) on Jan. 28, 2016 at the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s conference center in Atlanta.
The day-long event featured briefings by government officials on upcoming contracting opportunities as well as advice offered by successful entrepreneurs on strategies for pursuing government contracts. The highlight of the day was the matchmaking portion of the program where small business were matched with buyers from local, state and federal agencies, along with large prime contractors. In all, 589 individual appointments were conducted between small businesses and buyers.
Running concurrently with the matchmaking sessions was a presentation on “What Every Contractor Needs to Know about the Federal Acquisition Regulation,” conducted by one of Georgia Tech’s professional education units, The Contracting Education Academy. Scores of people attended this workshop as a productive way to spend their time between appointments.
The keynote speaker of the day was Kenyata Wesley, deputy director of the Defense Department’s small business office. Other featured speakers were Denean Machis, NCMA’s professional development officer; Joe Beaulieu, GTPAC’s program manager; Gwendolyn Miles, small business officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Prudence Howard, regional contracting director for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA); Mark Teskey, small business director for the U.S. Air Force; Jeff Napier, director of acquisition services for the CDC; and Tony Ortiz, small business representative for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Offering advice and insights into the government marketplace were small business representatives Gerald Boyd, CEO, DB Consulting and Kevin Grimes, CEO, CFO Leasing, Inc. Wrapping up the morning’s presentations, NCMA chapter president Carlos Smiley recognized several individuals and organizations for their support of Small Business Month activities.
Copies of presentations made at the event can be downloaded here: Industry Day Presentations 01.28.2016
Attendees at the Industry Day used a special web site and a smartphone app to register for and check-in at the event, and make their matchmaking appointments. The website (http://www.ivsnevents.org) and the app were developed by IVSN Group LLC. The leadership of NCMA’s Atlanta Chapter contracted with IVSN to manage registration and appointment-making for the large Jan. 28 event. The app – called PTACGo! – is downloaded free from Google Play (for Android devices) or Apple’s App Store (for iPhones). It allowed users to register in advance for the event and make appointments on smart phones, tablets, laptops and PCs. “Big data” expert and GTPAC client Riverstone Solutions, Inc. worked with IVSN on data storage and analytics. Rocky Top Event Management Services provided on-site management for the day.
In addition, helpful messages were “pushed” through the app to attendees throughout the day (e.g., matchmaking is about to begin, workshop scheduling, handout availability, and reminders to complete the post-event survey). Any attendees who did not download the app in advance used a QR code on display in multiple locations at the event to allow them to download the app on-site.
On the day of the event, attendees simply typed-in the first few letters of their last name at kiosks set up at the entrance. Once matching their registrations, bar-coded name tags automatically were printed. The bar-coding allowed for tracking of appointments fulfilled and workshop sessions attended.
Here’s a summary of what was accomplished:
- All pre-registrants were given instruction on how to come prepared with an elevator speech and a written capabilities statement. (These resources are still available on the app, and the app is still available for download.)
- All attendees benefited from individual matchmaking appointments with buyers from six federal agencies: CDC, VA, Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), General Services Administration (GSA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).
- State and local government agencies also participating in small business matchmaking were: Georgia Dept. of Administrative Services (DOAS), City of Atlanta, Atlanta Housing Authority, Clayton County, Clayton County Water Authority, and DeKalb County.
- Federal prime contractors participating in matchmaking sessions were: Amec Foster Wheeler, Booz Allen Hamilton, Georgia Industries for the Blind, Georgia Power, ICF International, IBM, JBS International, LMI, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, RTI International, and Source America.
- In all, there were 20 federal prime contractors in attendance who used the networking time between sessions to identify small businesses who might be used to fulfill their contractual small business subcontracting goals.
Scores of the small businesses in attendance also took advantage of this occasion to receive contract-related counseling from the team of six GTPAC counselors who were on hand. GTPAC representatives provided help to businesses on such topics as registration in the System for Award Management and creating capabilities statements. GTPAC also helped out-of-state attendees connect with the Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) in their locale.
- Attendees learned that the app – PTACGo! – that they installed on their phones, tablets and laptops can be used in the future to alert them to similar events coming up across the country. Examples include next month’s Alliance Northwest small business event hosted by the PTAC in Washington State and the National MBE Manufacturers Summit hosted by Georgia Tech’s MBDA Center.
The vast majority of attendees (88%) at the Jan. 28 event represented Georgia businesses, and business persons from Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia and New York made up the balance of the attendance. According to survey results, 62% said it was the first time they had ever attended an event like this, and 93% of attendees asked to be advised of upcoming events. Satisfaction with the Industry Day was very high: 97.5% of attendees said the overall event met or exceeded their expectations; 100% said the registration process worked well; 97% found the check-in process easy; 82% liked the app; and 95% found the workshops and the matchmaking sessions meaningful.