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DLA Director Learns about Small-Business Support

 

By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Garas

4/29/2015

Being a little fish in a big pond can be challenging. Few people seem to understand this better than small business owners.

Eleanor Thornton runs a small, veteran-owned business with her husband, Michael. To them the Procurement Technical Assistance Program and its assistance center, a federal cooperative hosted at George Mason University in Virginia, is more than a program that helps businesses do commerce with government at the federal, state and local levels; it’s on-the-job training in how to keep their business alive and thrive in a competitive industry.

“We’ve had an association with PTAP since the inception of the company,” Michael said. “This program has been integral for us.”

When Defense Logistics Agency Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch visited George Mason University’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center April 24 to learn more about the program and its benefits, the Thornton’s felt it was an opportunity to showcase the program’s success.

During his visit, Busch was briefed on the program, its impact on the local economy, and its vitality to small businesses that work with DLA and the federal government.

Last year alone, Virginia-based small businesses in the PTAP program were awarded 968 contracts valued at more than $411.3 million.

Established by the DoD Authorization Act in 1985 to improve and retain a stable industrial supply base by ensuring the viability and preparedness of U.S. businesses to win and perform government contracts, the program has 97 centers located throughout the United States, including the one at GMU.

The assistance centers provide guidance to businesses through several means, such as identifying contract opportunities, helping with understanding requirements, and preparing and submitting bids.

“It’s a way for small businesses to participate in government contracting,” said Christopher Hall, DLA’s program manager for PTAP.

Hall said that aside from counseling, services provided under PTAP include training, expert assistance in market research, networking, outreach, and a special mentor-protégé program that provides hands-on assistance to establish systems, processes and compliance.

Thornton said PTAP is “fantastic,” because it provides mentorship, honest opinions and guidance that he called critical to achieve success.

“PTAP serves as our sounding board and our conscience,” Thornton said. “It helps us make smart decisions, and when times are tough, it’s someone you can talk to.”

GMUWayne Evans, Director of the Mentor-Portege Program for PTAP, said he enjoyed the opportunity to brief Busch and was grateful for the visit.

“I find it to be impactful to have the DLA director come out here, because it shows that what we’re doing out here matters and that we’re doing something good.” Evans said. “It also shows he cares about what we do.”

 Defense Logistics Agency Director Air Force Lt. Gen. Andy Busch (left) poses with Anna Urman, director of George Mason University’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center, and Christopher Hall, DLA’s program manager for the Procurement Technical Assistance Program April 24 at GMU. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Garas.

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