Event brings agencies, small business owners together
LA GRANDE — Owners of area small businesses were offered a one-stop shop when the Governor’s Marketplace Roadshow came to La Grande Thursday.
Representatives from state and federal agencies were in town to present advice to small business owners and personnel as well as provide a networking opportunity.
Max Griffin, a partner at Rain Construction and Roofing in La Grande, said he was already aware of opportunities available to his business at the state level. He attended the road show to look into “getting plugged into the federal pipeline.”
Representatives from the Small Business Administration, Government Contracting Assistance Program and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were on hand to provide information and answer questions on how to compete for federal contracts. On the state side, attendees heard from the Department of Administrative Services, Business Oregon, and the departments of employment, corrections and revenue.
Benita Britt of Britt Corporation in Baker City said the roadshow was helpful for her sand and gravel business.
“They’re not everyday household names,” she said of the agencies. “The biggest thing is knowledge is power.”
And it was helpful that the roadshow came to La Grande —for the first time.
“If it wasn’t local, I don’t know that we would travel,” said Dave Wildman, a senior engineer at La Grande’s Anderson Perry and Associates.
Wildman said the networking portion was good but that it was also useful to hear about regulatory changes.
For instance, Tracy Grover with the Department of Revenue informed roadshow attendees that employers must file W2s and 1099s electronically or face a penalty.
La Grande Mayor Dan Pokorney, who attended the event to show his support for small businesses, said he thought a lot of the information was more interesting than one would think.
Pokorney was especially intrigued to hear from Troy Bowser, the facility administrator for the Department of Corrections, who said the state spends $22 million on food for inmates. Only $6 million comes from Oregon, Bowser said.
“I think we can do a better job getting Oregon business,” he told roadshow attendees.
The mayor noted that those contracts are all competitive and could be useful to businesses on the eastern side of the state.
“Any time you can get the people from the state and federal government to come to our community, you need to use that,” Pokorney said.
Many of the agencies stressed that they offer training programs, and many also offer grant and loan programs.
Dee Edwards, with GCAP, said her agency typically tailors to the needs of their clients, but suggested those looking to get involved in government contracting look closely at their target market and evaluate themselves after bids.
“If you’re not awarded that first or first few contracts, get a debriefing,” she said.
While the office of the governor does an annual traveling roadshow, it also hosts one large statewide marketplace in Salem each year. The next one will be held April 23, 2014.