The Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation will be able to help more veteran-owned businesses seeking federal contracts thanks to a cooperative agreement grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The foundation will receive $300,000 from the Small Business Administration, with the possibility for more funding in future years, for its Veteran Institute for Procurement.
The money will allow the foundation to provide a three-day training program to up to 150 businesses each year, said Barbara Ashe, national director of the Veteran Institute for Procurement and president of the Montgomery County Chamber Community Foundation.
The program, which is open to veteran-owned businesses across the country, is designed to help the businesses be more successful with government procurement, she said.
For the last five years, the foundation has held the training, but recently has only been able to provide training once a year for up to 50 businesses. The extra federal funding will allow it to hold three training sessions a year.
“The whole idea with this money is to expand the number of veterans who participate,” Ashe said. “This program that the SBA is funding is really needed. It’s not getting easier to be a government contractor.”
From risk to competition, the challenges facing government contractors are many, she said.
“We’re uniquely positioned here in Montgomery County to do this,” Ashe continued. “We have the resources, we have the talent, we have the expertise, and we have the customer.”
Ashe said the program started locally as a pilot because the foundation saw a need for working with veteran-owned businesses seeking government contracts within the local market.
But the foundation started getting calls from veteran-owned businesses all over the nation, and in 2011 it went national, welcoming businesses from anywhere in the U.S. to participate. A total of 348 have completed the training to date, Ashe said.