Small Businesses Thrive in Reclamation
More Than Half Its Budget Goes to Small Business
Written by: Dave Walsh
Contracting Specialists Bill Roberts (r) and Michael Stanard (l) met 250 vendors and other government purchasing agents this month at a “reverse” trade show.Whether it’s buying pens and pencils, restoring floodplains or rebuilding a dam, Reclamation’s mission-driven needs and purchasing powers can be a major driver for small businesses nationwide. With Small Business Saturday coming up on November 25, it’s important to note that federal agencies like Reclamation support small business year round.
In fiscal year 2017, the Pacific Northwest Region contracting office spent $38.8 million in products and services from more than 500 small businesses transactions.
“The U.S. government is the biggest buyer in the world,” said Andrew Knott, Regional Small Business Coordinator in Boise, Idaho. “In terms of growing local economies, our purchasing office has awarded many millions of dollars in contracts large and small to small businesses that can’t compete with large corporations.”
The trickle-down effect of directing federal dollars toward small businesses has lasting impact. It means money spent to hire contractors to pave roadways, mend fences, enlarge buildings, or plow winter snow, or write technical documents finds its way to the pockets and bank accounts of businesses in any community.
Supporting small business has always been a long-term goal within the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Small Business Administration. Reclamation is required by DOI to allocate at least 53 percent of its budget to small business “set asides”. These are a powerful tools that set-aside contracting opportunities exclusively for small business concerns. In the federal government, purchases between $3500 and $150,000 are automatically and exclusively set aside for small businesses.
There are many categories of set asides. Some are open to all small businesses; others are open only to small businesses with certain designations: small disadvantaged businesses, HUBZone, veteran-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, and women-owned small businesses.
This practice has enabled small businesses all over the country to grow and market their strengths and compete in the marketplace. It also has helped Reclamation meet its mission requirements—managing water in the West. For example, in Reclamation’s Pacific Northwest Region their Acquisitions team awarded contracts the following small businesses in 2017:
- $13.6 million for construction of fire station at Grand Coulee Dam awarded to Innovative Construction & Design Ltd., a small disadvantaged businesses in Post Falls, ID.
- $4.4 million to modify and upgrade Hyatt Dam in southwestern OR. Awarded to Suulutaaq Inc., which is operated by a Native American tribe and a small business.
- $1.7 million to provide upstream passage at Cle Elum Dam, WA. Awarded to Whooshh Innovations, a small business based in Seattle, Washington.
- $165,000 for debris removal at Hungry Horse Dam, MT. Awarded to Newton Crane, a small business in Columbia Falls, MT.
- $118,000 for engineering services for the Oxbow fish habitat project on Oregon’s John Day River. Awarded to Interfluve Inc., a small business in Hood River, OR.
- $53,000 for archaeological site assessment on Steamboat Rock State Park, WA. Awarded to Tierra Right of Way Services, a women-owned small business based in Tucson, AZ.
With the focus on small business contracts like these, the Regional Acquisitions Office has demonstrated its commitment to bring business opportunities to local, regional, and national business entities.
“We will continue to assist small, underutilized communities by assuring businesses can compete for Reclamation contracting and subcontracting dollars,” said Jericho Lewis, Regional Contracting Office Chief.
Besides managing contracts and making purchases, the Acquisition Office also frequently reaches out to small businesses at trade shows and local events. In Boise this fall, over 250 vendors met-up with federal, state and local government purchasing agents for a “reverse” trade show. Rather than vendors displaying their wares, these buyers met with vendors and offered resources to conduct business with the government agencies. They learned how to register and qualify as a small business, what bidding opportunities existed, and what each agency does.
“I spoke with several vendors who’ve never sold to the federal government. The more they know about what Reclamation does, the better they can serve our agency,” said Michael Stanard a Reclamation contract specialist.
Opportunities for small businesses to bid on federal government contracts help boost local economies and allow Reclamation to get the best value for goods and services needed to meet our mission.
Innovative Construction & Design, Post Falls, ID. won the $13.6 million contract to build the Grand Coulee Dam fire station. Reclamation’s PN Region spent $38.8 million from more than 500 small businesses transactions in 2017.
At Palisades Reservoir, CCI Transport and Crane of Idaho Falls, ID removed tons of driftwood debris from Palisades Reservoir this spring.
Tierra Right of Way Inc., a women-owned Arizona business, won the $53,000 contract for a site assessment.
Published on November 20, 2017