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Q: I just started a construction company and I’m researching doing business with the federal government. Can you give me any information to help?
–G. Browne, Sacramento, CA
A: If you meet the requirements, the first thing I suggest is that you apply for an 8(a) designation. Run by the Small Business Administration (SBA), the 8(a) Business Development program is designed to provide business development assistance and technical assistance to help socially and economically disadvantaged businesses gain access to mainstream American economy. To apply, contact an SBA regional office. A listing is available at www.sba.gov/ regions/states.html. For the criteria to participate in the program, go to www.sba.gov/8 abd/indexfaqs.html.
The Federal Business Opportunities bureau (www.fedbizopps.gov) not only has links to different government agencies but also a searchable database listing available government contracts.
DoDBusOpps.com (www.dodbusopps.com) is a useful site set up by the U.S. Department of Defense with information on regulations entrepreneurs need to be aware of when doing business with the government.
You can also obtain a list of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, which helps small businesses through the process of obtaining government contracts through the nonprofit Regional Contracting Assistance Center (RCAC) (www.rcacwv.com/ptac.htm).
Finally, you should get in touch with the National Association of Minority Contractors (www.namconline.org). This is a nonprofit organization that helps promote the economic and legal interests of minority contracting firms.