Working as a government contractor could provide area small businesses with big opportunities for growth, according to panelists featured in Wednesday’s Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce seminar.
The chamber kicked off its Small Business Month celebration with a presentation on how to secure federal contracting dollars by Nancy Brown, state director of the Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and Cory Hicks, director of business services with Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership.
Brown said KYPTAC helped businesses in McCracken County get $67.3 million in contracting dollars in 2020, primarily through deactivation and remediation efforts at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
“I want you to think about what the government does,” Brown said, in the virtual event. “The government buys anything from pencils and paper to aircraft and machines to support the Army. The wide net of government contracting is huge.
“And, you probably know the government isn’t going anywhere. It’s always going to be buying goods and services and needs the American people especially small businesses, to support all of these efforts.”
KYPTAC’s mission is to help businesses get into government contracting at the federal, state and even local level. Its services are provided free of charge. To become a client, businesses must have a SOS (Secretary of State) number and go to www.kyptac.com and request free counseling.
“We can help you grow (in the government contracting sector) and explore markets that you haven’t thought about,” Brown said.
Statewide services KYPTAC provides include one-on-one counseling, providing targeted topics, roadshows and webinars, connecting businesses with prime and government agencies and helping with various certifications including HUB (historically underutilized business) Zones.
“The government has awarded about $11.5 billion to Hub Zone small businesses nationwide, about 3% of the annual spending of the federal government. Three% may look like a small number, but it ($11.5 billion) is a lot of money awarded to small businesses to perform tasks and sustain our economy,” she said.
Another example is the $26 million of contracts to women-owned businesses (in 2019), which is “above the threshold that they were aiming for. And, that’s just two examples.”
Brown said KYPTAC is planning to open an office in Paducah in July to help serve the western portion of the state.
Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership is the deactivation and remediation contractor at the Paducah DOE site. The site was built initially for national security purposes and later shifted its mission to U.S. nuclear energy purposes. In 2013, the plant shut down and since then the DOE has been cleaning up the site.
“So right here in the backyard in McCracken County, we have several large contracts that could be utilized by small businesses,” Hicks said.
“Our contract drives us to do a certain amount of work with small businesses and that’s really guided by our small business plan approved by DOE. That’s something that the government encourages contractors to do, work with small businesses and it provides a lot of benefit to the department as we move forward with the cleanup.”
Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership also has training and mentoring programs to assist small businesses.
“In our contract, we have a procurement goal of 50% through our small business plan and we’re really excited that we’re actually exceeding that goal. We’re almost at 65% of our fund spent on goods and services from small business,” Hicks said.
“Just to put that 65% in perspective, since 2017 that equates to about $165 million going to small businesses. We’re talking about really large dollars that are being utilized through small business at the DOE site.”
A wide variety of Information on how to work with FRNP is available at fourriversnuclearpartnership.com.
Working with the DOE contractor could lead to opportunities beyond western Kentucky, Hicks said.
“The company I work for, Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership is made up three other larger companies, and those companies do business all across the country and all across the world.
“Just think about getting in with Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership, maybe winning an award and doing a good job with the work you’re asked to do. Then that’s going to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy who has projects all over the country,” he said.
“That’s going to be recognized by these three large companies that are always looking for companies to put in their rolodex so they can work with businesses on other projects. Some small steps to get your foot in the door will really be helpful in the long run, doing business across the country.”