Pacific Rim’s sustainability focus provides green contracting opportunities

National Small Business Week, celebrated June 17 – 21, 2013, is a time to honor the small businesses that help power the American economy and make this country great. At the General Services Administration (GSA), small businesses play a critical role in helping us carry out the agency’s mission of delivering best value to our customers and the American people.  In fact, Expanding Opportunities for Small Businesses is one of the GSA’s top priorities.

Ruth Cox, Regional Administrator, Pacific Rim Region

The Pacific Rim Region has a long history in educating and providing contracting opportunities to our nation’s entrepreneurs. From its Opening Doors Small Business Conferences of the past to today’s roundtables, project specific outreach efforts, and numerous training classes, the region continues to promote opportunities to do business with the federal government.

Our goal is to engage small businesses in accessing the federal market, especially in areas unique to the region such as high technology, clean power, and green products and services. We have an aggressive outreach program in place in which we are conducting round table events, both live and virtual, with small business owners across the region. We want them to understand how much opportunity exists for them in the federal marketplace and what they need to do to tap into these opportunities.

We’re dedicated to helping our customers save money on their purchases, and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations.  With four of the sunniest states in the nation (California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii), and with state or federal commitments to energy efficiency, clean power and greening the supply chain in the region, the Pacific Rim Region has been at the forefront in implementing the Federal Government’s sustainability plan.  We received close to $75 million in funding for energy upgrades and clean power installations, and our efforts in workplace transformation include not only designs for mobile and collaborative work environments, but sustainably manufactured furniture, communications and computing tools, and print and document management systems. With our focus on greening GSA’s business operations, we want to ensure that small businesses looking to get on the Multiple Award Schedules, or that are already on a GSA Schedule, are well positioned to secure contracts.  One way to do that is to make sure they understand the importance of sustainability in our business model.

Regional staffs raise awareness and facilitate real contract opportunities through a number of forums such as our project specific outreach. Last fall, the Pacific Rim hosted a subcontracting outreach event for the new U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles. More than 350 small business representatives attended the event to discover what subcontracting opportunities could become available to them as the project was implemented. This project has an aggressive subcontracting goal of 52 percent overall, with additional goals for each socio-economic class, as well.  These additional goals include: 10 percent – Small disadvantaged businesses including 8(a); 10 percent – Woman-owned small businesses; 5 percent – HUBZone businesses; 6 percent – Veteran-owned small businesses; and 6 percent – Service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

In addition to hosting GSA training classes and project events, we’ve also developed collaborative partnerships with the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, Chambers of Commerce, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, and other state and local agencies within our four states. These partnerships not only provide additional forums to discuss federal requirements, they also allow us to expand our reach to the broadest audience of small businesses.

Earlier this year, regional staff partnered with Fresno’s Metro Black Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fresno to host a community outreach event for small and minority-owned businesses. The event was a “one-stop shop” for all things related to greater diversity in business including Human Resources and recruitment, contracting readiness workshops, business matching, and a supplier diversity expo.  Our contribution to this Central Valley Business Diversity Expo helped successfully advance the city’s twin goals of business development and economic revitalization for Fresno.

We’ve also developed partnerships with some of our local Congressional offices over the years and have participated in Congressional outreach events in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

GSA brings a unique perspective to these events in that we act as the membrane between federal agencies and small businesses. We transfer knowledge and interpret market signals to our federal customers, and we transmit their requirements to the private sector. By educating small businesses about GSA’s contracting vehicles and highlighting the goods and services required by our federal customers, we are not only supporting GSA’s small business goals but also those of our customers.

Small businesses continue to play an integral role in the region’s construction projects. Our recently completed U.S. Courthouse in San Diego is a perfect example of small businesses helping GSA shape the city’s skyline.  More than 51 percent of the project’s $118 million subcontracting dollars went to small businesses.  They provided a variety of services ranging from masonry and roofing to floor and wall tile installation and much more.   With their skill and expertise, the completed courthouse now stands as a symbol of justice in the heart of downtown.

Since October 2012, more than $61 million in new contracts have been awarded to small businesses within the Pacific Rim Region with a wide range of opportunities still on the horizon.

In honor of National Small Business Week, the Pacific Rim will be participating in the American Express VIP Small Business Conference in Sacramento and the Board of State Equalization Small Business Seminar and Resource Expo in Thousand Oaks, California.

Click here for more information about GSA’s Small Business Program.

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