How important is contracting with the government to smaller communities? Let’s look at Newport, Wash., as one example.
Newport is a town about an hour north of Spokane on the Washington-Idaho border with a population of approximately 2,140. Smaller towns – like Newport – don’t have the business-to-business opportunities that a larger community – like Spokane – would offer.
Since 2004, businesses in Newport received more than 400 government contracts totaling almost $10 million and supported nearly 200 total jobs. The Department of Agriculture awarded a large majority of the contracts, though the Department of Interior awarded a number of contracts as well.
For example, the Department of Agriculture needed its Conservation and Development Facilities repaired, so it contracted with a private company to do the work.
There are a lot of unknown opportunities when it comes to contracting with the government. For example, Fairchild Air Force Base – a government installation – needs dry cleaning services. It contracts with local companies to do the job. On a larger scale, construction companies in the area have been awarded contracts to work on various projects on the base.
So how can contracting with the government help small towns? Government agencies are required to award a certain percentage of contracts to companies in HUB Zones (more on that here). Being Hub Zone certified gives your company leverage and is typically the preferred choice for agencies awarding contracts. In our region, most small towns fall within a Hub Zone.
Agencies are also required to award a certain percentage of contracts to women-owned businesses as well. Currently, some agencies haven’t yet met their goals, so businesses in small towns can position themselves to be awarded certain contracts.
We are the host organization for the Eastern Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), which is the agency in charge of helping businesses contract with the government. The process to secure government contracts isn’t your typical process – so the PTAC office helps businesses be prepared. The PTAC office here helps large and small businesses. Local PTAC classes and workshops are always free.
With sequestration taking over the mindset of the nation, there is an effect on government contracts. Current signed contracts will not be affected by budget cuts. The number of contracts awarded down the road, though, could decrease. It’s not known yet where those decreases will take place.
Contracting with the government helps small town businesses grow and retain employees. If you’re employed in a small town, take advantage of the opportunities government agencies offer.