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During the quarter between October 1 – December 31, 2020, the University of Tennessee Procurement Technical Assistance Center (TN PTAC) exceeded its goals for the Quarter in the Number of New Clients (84) and Participated Events 115). TN PTAC was only 2% below its counseling hour’s goal even with the onboarding of a new counselor in September. Each TN PTAC staff member received over 40 hours of professional development in government contracting, including at least 2-hours each of Cyber Security training during the month. The Tennessee PTAC’s customer-survey-response average for the quarter was 4.63 or 92% rate.
TN PTAC made continued progress in engaging large prime contractors looking to locate small businesses through TN PTAC’s hosting of its second major virtual networking conference. Titled the Construction Opportunities Conference, it was based (co-sponsors mainly) from Nashville on October 28, 2020. This event was useful in assisting the more “advanced” clients looking to take the next step in government contracting. The collaboration with the large prime contractors also assists our ability to be a referral source when they (large prime contractors) are looking for specific suppliers.
The Construction Opportunities Conference had some 150 small businesses attending and 20 some agencies/large prime contractors participating, including US Army Corps of Engineers Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee Valley Authority, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, among others. TN PTAC utilized Zoom Webinar technology to implement the program portion of the event before lunch. The agenda included several advance topics as “Winning Federal Construction Contracts”, “OSHA Safety Requirements in Construction”, “Project Management Strategies”, “Bonding Programs for Small Construction Firms”, and “Understanding Mentor Protégé/Teaming Agreements.”
The matchmaking portion of the event (after lunch) enabled attendees to meet face-to-face (20 minute meetings each) with large prime contractors and government agencies interested in doing business with small construction and engineering firms. TN PTAC utilized My Bidmatch, Inc. software and technical support services to help facilitate the supplier and vendor registrations.
TN PTAC is now regarded as a creditable option for SBIR assistance (one client at a time), as there has been high percentage of clients receiving awards due to counseling activities. TN PTAC has taken a quality vs quantity approach in its SBIR program with several client successes and periodic training events. One of those clients, Kelvi/Hypothermia Devices received an AFWERX Phase II award regarding digitally controlled/monitored therapeutic technology.
Another client, Diversified Power International, LLC (DPI) received a study from The University of Tennessee Engineering Department (public service) confirming its technology after being referred by the PTAC Staff. Along with that, TN PTAC set up a meeting for DPI with the Corps of Engineers Environmental Research Group regarding a presentation on Ultrasonic Solutions for Algae Remediation. The project is to address toxic algae in the Florida waterway systems. DPI was also coached by the PTAC staff on their presentation for this meeting with the Corps.
The DOD Rapid Sustainment Office awarded a PHASE II SBIR a long time TN PTAC SBIR client, Aviation Resources and Consulting Services, LLC for $ 999,039 regarding virtual reality tools.
In addition, during the quarter, TN PTC sponsored a virtual event on October 1, 2020 titled: SBIR/STTR Commercialization – Strategic planning before, during and after scientific breakthroughs. The training introduced attendees to agency expectations SBIR/STTR commercialization and provided information on developing commercialization plans. The seminar had 74 attendees.
Tennessee PTAC is continuing its efforts to assist more “manufacturing” companies. During the quarter, the TN PTAC sponsored a virtual conference titled: “Manufacturing and Distributors Conference – Doing Business with the Government.” Held on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, between 10 AM TO 1:15 PM (EDT) had 149 attendees. David Koch, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) was the primary speaker, along with Diane Sterling, Boeing and Janelle Easter, BAE Systems.; TN PTAC staff provide a Doing Business with the Government 101 training seminar that discussed key issues in federal contracting and provided checklists for getting started as a manufacturer and/or Distributor.
TN PTAC and the Virginia PTAC teamed up to sponsor “Doing Business with the States of Tennessee & Virginia on November 4, 2020 which 29 small businesses attended. This workshop covered how Tennessee based businesses can sell to the State of Virginia and how Virginia based businesses can sell to the State of Tennessee. The training also included information on the small business certification programs for each state while explaining each State’s procurement process and practices.
Overall TN PTAC sponsored 25 training events with over 800 attendees (all virtual) during the quarter with several “advanced” training events to complement its normal 101 government contracting training held each month during the quarter. TN PTAC sponsored several Government Contracting 201 courses – an interactive follow-up course to the Government Contracting 101, designed for individuals who are beyond the basics. This pilot training has made the staff more efficient in assisting clients, while maintaining contact with clients that have moved on to the next level. In addition, TN PTAC has started to experiment with “after hour” training (6 PM - 8 PM CDT) every other Thursday in the month to reach potential clients that are not available for procurement counseling during 9-5 hours and need a more flexible schedule. The “advanced” training events during the quarter included: