It seems that most of the news coming out of the Government lately is depressing and seems to not be in favor of small business contractors. Some of this bad news is political positioning and some of the news is a warning to small businesses that are not paying attention to their customers and of course some of it will impact small business. Being an optimist at heart, I would like to look for the opportunities in all of this. I saw a couple of opportunities in the past week that I would like to bring to everyone's attention. These could be good ways to find opportunities in an otherwise shrinking pool.
The first is an announcement by the Small Business Administration (SBA) on March 14th about the launching of their new program called the American Supplier Initiative. This initiative will allow small businesses to connect with larger private sector companies. One of the programs under this initiative is the Supplier Connection, created by the IBM Foundation. Some of the firms participating in this include Facebook, AT&T, IBM, Pfizer, UPS, Caterpillar, AMD, Office Depot, Dell, JP Morgan, John Deere, Wells Fargo, Citi, Kellog's and Bank of America. The SBA expects that other companies will join this program as well.
A second part of the initiative is called SUB-Net. The SBA maintains a database that allows the small business to search for sub-contracting opportunities to Primes with larger contracts.
Finally I want to tell you about an initiative from Lockheed Martin called the Lockheed Martin Silicon Valley Alliance, this is designed to provide more visibility between small businesses and the Federal Government. It is designed specifically around innovative technologies and how to bring these to the attention of primarily the Federal Government, especially where agencies like the DoD or NASA may be able to use some of these technologies directly.
There are other avenues for Small Business to explore also. For instance, many of the large prime contractors will actively seek small businesses to support during an SBIR grant. I know several that publish lists every time an SBIR topic list is released that indicate which topics the company is interested in and even specific technical contacts within the company that are interested in that topic. This is a great way for a Small Business that is writing a proposal for an SBIR grant to get a large company letter of support. This type of support is always viewed as favorable by the SBIR review committee.