Counselor: Hard work of securing government contracts can pay off

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Jim Kidd works as the Western Slope procurement counselor for the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center. The center offers businesses assistance in obtaining government contracts. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Jim Kidd acknowledges the work that goes into securing government contracts isn’t easy. Nor is the endeavor appropriate for every company.

But the results can be substantial in increasing sales and profits as well as leveling the ups and downs of business cycles.

Moreover, assistance and resources are available, said Kidd, the new Western Slope procurement counselor for the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC).

It’s an effort that helps not only individual businesses, but also the region, Kidd said. “PTAC is an economic driver. Our job is to drive local economies.”

Colorado PTAC re-opened its Western Slope office in September at the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction following negotiations with the Defense Logistics Agency.

Colorado PTAC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the DLA and also operates offices in six other locations along the Front Range.

“We were able to make our case with DLA that having a permanent counselor provided better support to Western Colorado businesses than trying to cover the need by traveling from the Front Range,” said Dennis Casey, executive director of the Colorado PTAC.

Colorado PTAC hired Kidd to staff the position.

Kidd brings to his duties more than 30 years of experience working with small businesses. He worked as a business opportunity specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration and helped businesses qualify for federal contracting set-asides and other support under the SBA 8(a) program. He also worked as director of the Small Business Development Center in Montrose.

Kidd also has operated small businesses himself, including custom saddle making and precision machining firms.

“Jim’s experience with government small business programs and knowledge of the Western Slope business environment made him an obvious choice,” Casey said.

Kidd said the re-opening of the PTAC office and his hiring were a response to a growing community of businesses in Western Colorado and the need to operate a local office to better serve those businesses.

Kidd said he usually works out of his office at the Business Incubator Center in Grand Junction on Wednesdays. It’s a good location, he said, given the variety of services and resources the center offers entrepreneurs.

Kidd said he works with businesses in Delta, Montrose and Paonia on Tuesdays and heads to Durango and the southern part of the region on Thursdays. But his schedule is flexible, he said, and he also can meet with business owners and managers on a remote basis with a computer and internet connection.

The Colorado PTAC offers a range of free services and other resources to help businesses obtain and meet the requirements of local, state and federal government contracts. Those services include confidential counseling, classes and networking events. PTAC also can help businesses find opportunities to bid on government contracts as well as review bids and proposals.

In one sense PTAC counselors serve as partners, Kidd said. While owners and managers know how to operate their businesses, they might not know how to navigate government contracting.

Kidd said he usually starts out by discussing what a business owner or manager expects to accomplish in selling products or services to the government. The process requires time and work as well as new knowledge and skills. “It should be a strategic decision.”

The owners and managers most likely to succeed in securing government contracts are those who are diligent in learning about contracting and committed to the process, he said. They’re also adaptable and have the time and other resources to devote to the effort. “It’s an exciting learning curve if you have the courage to do it.”

That effort can pay off, Kidd said.

Government agencies at all levels constitute customers for a variety of products and services, he said. By one estimate for the 2017 fiscal year, government spending topped $10.7 billion in Colorado alone. Moreover, preferences have been set aside for federal contracts for small businesses, including those owned by women and service-disabled veterans.

While government contracts won’t save a failing business, they offer an opportunity to expand and diversify operations, Kidd said. Government contracts also can help to level off the ups and downs of seasonal operations and business cycles.

Those opportunities can make a difference to even the smallest firms, he added. “You don’t have to be big to be profitable.”

Kidd said PTAC counselors become as excited as their clients when they succeed. “That’s where our joy really lies.”

But there’s an even bigger economic effect, he said. When businesses succeed with contracting, they hire more employees, buy equipment and even build new facilities. And that helps the whole region.

For more information about the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center and available services, contact Jim Kidd at J.Kidd@ColoradoPTAC.org or visit the website located at www.ColoradoPTAC.org.