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Florida Small Business Development Center at USF Hosts Annual Government Conference

By Stacey Dadd

SBDC Conference

TAMPA (May 9, 2018) -- With an eye toward boosting local small businesses into the world of government contracting, the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida hosted the 31st Annual Government Small Business Conference earlier this month.

"The whole purpose of the conference is to expose our small business owners to the possibility of doing business with the government – particularly the federal government," said Eileen Rodriguez, regional director of the center.

The event took place at the Holiday Inn Tampa Westshore on May 4, and was attended by 104 small-business representatives who came to hear from experts in the government contracting arena. The conference included the Business Opportunity Expo, which offered opportunities for conference attendees to network with about 30 large corporation and federal government buyers. Conference attendees also got a chance to meet Florida SBDC at USF consultants to discuss services available for growing their businesses.

"Through our procurement consultants, we are able to help small businesses navigate the red tape within the federal contracting arena," Rodriguez said. "We also help them become certified at the federal level as either minority-owned, woman-owned or service-disabled-veteran businesses, and that helps them compete with small contracts, either as prime contracts or as subcontractors to prime contractors."

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, delivered the welcoming remarks.

"Partnering with the SBDC at USF is vitally important to this community to help lift small businesses," she said. "We are a community of small-business owners and if this community is going to thrive, raise wages and support families, we've got to make sure that small-business owners are connected to the very vast federal contracts that are available, all across government."

Morning sessions kicked off with an acquisition and strategy panel discussion that included representatives from the General Services Administration, the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast and the Defense Logistics Agency.

"The morning panel discussion was very insightful ... very informative," said attendee Artice Scott. "What I really loved about it is they gave a chronological sequence of the steps you can take to achieve whatever goal you have. They told us what they look for and how they have expanded their needs."

Other workshops included Building on Federal Government Contracts: Avoiding Costly Proposal Pitfalls, Tax Reform: The Effect on Government Contractors and Related Businesses, Early Themes for Government Contractors Under the Trump Administration and Winning Capture Strategy. The luncheon featured keynote speaker Sara Moola, president and CEO of Visual Awareness Technologies and Consulting.

The luncheon also featured the presentations of the Florida SBDC at USF Small Business of the Year awards, which went to Jorge Brea of Symphonic Distribution and David and Heather Ferrill of Ferrill Construction. The U.S. Small Business Administration also presented its 2018 Minority-Owned, Small-Business Person-of-the-Year award to Florida SBDC at USF client, Brian Butler. Butler is the president and CEO of Vistra Communications.