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Groups aim to help firms get government contracts

Veteran-owned businesses often are overlooked for government procurement, mainly because federal agencies and prime contractors have a difficult time identifying them.
A collaborative effort among three area organization aims to help veterans and their firms.
The Rochester Procurement Technical Assistance Center, Rochester Business Journal and Veteran’s Outreach Center Inc. have collaborated on a new survey to identify veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, officials said Thursday.
A list of the top 25 veteran-owned companies, ranked by number of employees, appears on page 10. It also will appear in the annual Book of Lists. Organizations that responded will appear in a compilation of lists published annually on CD-ROM. The survey was answered by 45 veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.
“Through this process, our activities will provide support for veterans who have served us and assist local business leaders as they continue to foster economic development,” said Susan Holliday, RBJ’s president and publisher.
Rochester PTAC, part of the Rochester Business Alliance Inc., will help the companies target and win contracts and encourage federal agencies and prime contractors to buy their goods and services.
“Many veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses often do not recognize that there are set-asides in government contracting for diverse business concerns,” said Sandra Parker, president and chief operating officer of the RBA.
Parker noted 3 percent of $305 billion spent by federal agencies on procurement was targeted toward service-disabled veteran-owned businesses, but the amount actually awarded to them usually is smaller.
Thomas Cray, of VOC, encouraged veterans to participate in the survey.
“Veterans served to protect our freedom and now they need support from the community,” said Cray, whose organization serves more than 1,500 veterans annually with services, including job training and placement. “It is critical that veterans experience success in their civilian lives, success that will translate into improved health, a reconnection with themselves and society, and a productive life.”
Matthew Augustine, president and CEO of Eltrex Industries Inc., said the creation of the veteran-owned business list is timely, noting that the federal government has shown an increased interest in veteran-owned businesses. Government contracts mean big business for some companies, he said.
Augustine, whose company tops the list, said it also is a chance to highlight the successes of these local businesses.
“It’s an opportunity to show there are some veterans out there that have established businesses and are doing well,” said Augustine, a Vietnam veteran.
The Rochester-based company, founded in 1968, specializes in product assembly, logistics services and document processing. It employs 287 workers.
In its third year, the Rochester PTAC works one-on-one with small businesses to analyze opportunities in the government market.
Linda Keefe, chief executive officer of Shared Results International, said PTAC has helped her company on several occasions, from providing free classes on how to do business with the government to previewing the Pittsford-based company’s booth for a trade show and offering tips on how to make it more government-friendly.
“I threw my hands up in despair many times,” said Keefe, referring to past attempts to do business with the federal government.
Another PTAC benefit is the free services the agency offers, which provide companies with timely and customized information, Keefe said. While government agencies sometimes are known for being slow or unresponsive, that is not the case with PTAC.
“PTAC is pro-active, fast-acting and very responsive,” she said.
(adeckert@rbj.net / 585-546-8303)

11/12/04 (C) Rochester Business Journal

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