Gwen Carr is the program director of the First American Capital Corps - Tribal Procurement Technical Assistance Center at the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin reservation. (Photo courtesy of FACC-PTAC)

Tribal PTAC Hosts Second Annual 'Growing Your Business with Government Contracts' Conference

Gale Courey Toensing
1/22/13

Most people would agree that going from zero to $5 million in government contracting in one year is a good track record for a new non-profit organization that helps tribal governments and Native businesses get government contracts.

That’s what First American Capital Corp—Procurement Technical Assistance Center (FACC-PTAC), which started up in October 2011, did during its first year of operation. Now the fast-growing organization that teaches individual and tribal businesses what it takes to successfully sell their goods and services to the federal governments will host the second annual “Growing Your Business with Government Contracts” regional conference for rural and tribal businesses, The event will take place on January 28 and 29 at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Details and registration are available online at www.faccptac.com.

FACC-PTAC, stands for First American Capital Corps., and PTAC stands for Tribal Procurement Technical Assistance Center, but the organization is more easily known as the Tribal PTAC. The Tribal-PTAC, which is located on the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin reservation, has a huge service area that includes Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, New York, Massachusetts and Maine. Program Director Gwen Carr expects this year’s regional conference to be the largest gathering of federal agency representatives and federal contractors in the Midwest this year.

“The cool thing is we’ve been in business now for just over a year and after the first year of  figuring out how to do the work, how the reporting system works, getting our office set up and a million other hurdles we literally had to leap over, at the end of the year we’ve gotten around $5 million in contracting for some of our clients and that is literally just the beginning,” Carr said. “That’s real jobs for Indian businesses, real money, real contacts, real food on the table stuff and in a climate where nobody’s creating jobs -- but we are.”

Congress created the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) to help businesses seeking to compete successfully in government contracting, according to the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers website. The centers are funded through cooperative agreements between the Department of Defense and state and local entities. There are dozens of PTAC’s around the country, but only eight exclusively serving Indian country. The Defense Department funds the Wisconsin Tribal PTAC, which offers all its services free of charge.

The Tribal-PTAC helps create networking opportunities to forge and support the relationships between individual or tribal business owners and the federal agencies. It provides technical services, and training and preparation in whatever areas its clients need – bid preparation, reviews of Requests for Proposals, one on one counseling and whatever information that is needed.  “We don’t do the work for them, but we help them understand the system and how it works. We do everything we can to help our clients be the winning bid,” Carr said.

This year’s Tribal PTAC conference will begin on the evening of January 28 with a reception and a special consultation and round table discussion with the federal General Services Administration (GSA) and Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA Regional Administrator Marianne Markowitz and Wisconsin District Director Eric Ness will speak on SBA support for tribal, native and rural businesses. “We want to be proactive in talking with regional native and tribal businesses about the many SBA programs that can give them an edge in a competitive marketplace,” Markowitz said in an SBA press release.  Both Markowitz and Ness will be available for interviews in advance and during the morning of the conference. Several other federal agencies will also be present, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Defense, the Forest Service, and the General Services Administration.

The full-day program on January 29 will kick off with opening remarks by Ada Deer, former Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior. Morning presentations will include Leveraging the Federal HUBZone Program presented by Mariana A. Pardo, Director of HUBZone Program, A Mentoring Panel – The Challenge and Rewards of Selling to the Government presented by successful Federal contractors; Selling to the Federal Government – Updates on BIA Programs. What you should know, presented by Anne Mendoza Jennings, Economic Development Specialist, Bureau of Indian Affairs; Ruby Crenshaw-Lawrence, Indian Incentive Program, Department of Defense; Katherine R. Ragland, US Small Business Administration; and Shawn M. Lacina, Contracting Officer, Lake States Acquisition Team US Forest Service. The afternoon session will include presentations on selling to the Department of Defense, the Forest Service, and the General Services Administration.

It’s an event where tribal leaders and Indian-owned business leaders can come to the table and do business, a kind of tribal-federal marketplace, Carr said. “Let me put it this way: With the kind of people we have coming and the fact that this will be the largest federal contracting and procurement event in the Midwest this year for anybody – period -- if I’m smart and I’m an American Indian living in Chicago or Ohio and I own a business and I want to know about federal contracting and I want to meet the people who make the decisions and have face time with them and have them know my business and give them my brochures and business card, I’m going to be there,” Carr said, noting that the theme of the conference is When Preparation Meets Opportunity. “Well, we’ve been preparing our clients and tribes to be able to meet any opportunity that comes their way and this is the kind of opportunity we’re talking about.”

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