by Stacey Dadd | May 9, 2018
“The whole purpose of the 31st Annual Government Small Business Conference is to expose our small business owners to the possibility of doing business with the government – particularly the federal government.” Eileen Rodriguez said.
The Florida SBDC at University of South Florida hosted the 31st Annual Government Small Business Conference at Holiday inn Tampa Westshore on Friday, May 4. Approximately 104 small business representatives were in attendance to hear from experts in the government contracting arena, as well as to meet with corporate and federal government buyers at the Business Opportunity Expo.
The event started with a welcome from Congresswoman Kathy Castor. “Partnering with SBDC at USF is vitally important to this community to help lift small businesses,” she said. “We are a community of small business owners and if this community is going to thrive, raise wages, and support families, we’ve got to make sure that small business owners are connected to the very vast federal contracts that are available, all across government.”
After Castor’s welcome, the morning sessions kicked off with an Acquisition and Strategy panel discussion with representatives from General Services Administration, NAVFAC Southeast and Defense Logistics Agency.
“The morning panel discussion was very insightful,” Artice Scott, attendee, said. “It was very informative. What I really loved about it is they gave a chronological sequence of the steps you can take to achieve whatever goal you have. They told us what they look for and how they have expanded their needs.”
Other workshops included Building on Federal Government Contracts: Avoiding Costly Proposal Pitfalls, Tax Reform: The Effect on Government Contractors and Related Businesses, Early Themes for Government Contractors Under the Trump Administration, and Winning Capture Strategy. The luncheon featured keynote speaker Sara Moola, President and CEO of Visual Awareness Technologies and Consulting, Inc.
The luncheon also featured the presentations of the Florida SBDC at USF Small Business of the Year awards. Jorge Brea, of Symphonic Distribution, and David and Heather Ferrill, of Ferrill Construction, were the awardees. The U.S. Small Business Administration also presented its 2018 Minority-Owned Small Business Person of the Year award to Florida SBDC at USF client, Brian Butler. Butler is the President and CEO of Vistra Communications.
The event closed with the Business Opportunity Expo, at which attendees were given the opportunity to network with approximately 30 large corporation and federal government buyers. During this time, attendees also had the opportunity to meet with Florida SBDC at USF consultants to discuss services available for growing their businesses, which included Growth Acceleration, Profit Mastery, and additional government consulting services.
“We currently have the Florida PTAC at USF and through our procurement consultants, we are able to help small businesses navigate the red tape within the federal contracting arena,” Rodriguez said. “We also help them become certified at the federal level as either minority-owned, woman-owned or service disabled veteran businesses, and that helps them compete with small contracts, either as prime contracts or as subcontractors to prime contractors.”