Fri, July 19, 2024

Learning how to navigate the landscape of government contracts

Businesses can often find it difficult to find and bid on lucrative government contracts, but there’s a nationwide network of experts ready to help.

Augusta is home to an office of the Georgia Tech APEX Accelerator, one of 300 local offices for a program previously called the Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. Nationwide, there are more than 90 APEX Accelerators.

“APEX Accelerator provides technical assistance and procurement advice to businesses,” explained Dave Hepner, the counselor in the Augusta office. “We have a great deal of clients that are just beginning, and we’ve got some that have been in our fold for about 15 years and doing very well.”

The program began 38 years ago. The Augusta office has been open for about 10 years. Hepner was Director of Procurement at the Savannah River Site before joining the Augusta office.

Although the program is administered by the Department of Defense’s Office of Small Business Programs, Hepner said it helps businesses pursue contracts at the federal, state, and local levels.

“We have a system; it’s called bid match. Each business has a NAICS (North American Industrial Classification System) code, a primary NAICS code, and secondary NAICS codes that they bid on,” he said. “Bid match will give you bids that come out from a lot of different places. It takes about 6,060 different databases into one and sends you opportunities. Now, you can choose not to pursue it, but the opportunity is there, if you should choose to go for it.”

The accelerators can offer a broad range of assistance and training, including business accounting and budget, marketing, sales and strategies, and one-on-one counseling.

As a business begins navigating the world of government contracts, one important document they will face is the Request for Proposal (RFP).

“I always tell them to focus on three things,” said Hepner. “Section C of the request for proposal, which is a statement of work. Section M, which is the evaluation factors of which the request, the proposal, will be reviewed. And Section L, which is what are they asking to be sent in. I say, ‘If you can do those three sections, and feel very confident, then let’s go after it.’”

One good example of a local project that businesses could aim for is the construction of the new James Brown Arena. The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority hired Arizona-based Nations Group (https://nationsgroup.com) to be the owner’s representative as the project moves forward. Nations Group will be responsible for preparing the RFPs.

“And it would be nice to have some of the local construction companies, you know, get a hold of that,” Hepner said. “And it’s important for them to put their best foot forward so that they can build a reputation of being can-do.”

The APEX Accelerators can provide training and assistance via multiple options, such as seminars, webinars, workshops, and outreach events.

In 2022, the APEX Accelerator network served more than 56,000 clients and helped them win more than $24 billion in government contracts and subcontracts.

“APEX Accelerators embrace the challenge of helping small and innovative businesses bring products and services to government markets with their cutting-edge skills and technologies, while maintaining essential security and cost-effectiveness. Hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue provide good jobs all across our country,” said Dave Pease, President of the National Association of APEX Accelerators.

The local office is located at 2907 Professional Parkway in Augusta. Hepner can be reached at: david.hepner@innovate.gatech.edu or (803) 507-9986.

More information on the Georgia accelerator offices is at: www.gtpac.org

Information for South Carolina is available at: https://scaccelerator.org

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