Valdosta Daily Times


March 17, 2013

Small Business Development Center holds Procurement Academy

VALDOSTA — Starting and sustaining a small business can feel like building a fire. Tough to get going, tough to keep going.

When Gino Fina, owner of Valdosta Shared Office Space, was getting started in 2006, he turned to the Small Business Development Center for help.

“Valdosta is very lucky to have the SBDC,” said Fina. “They’re able to advise and encourage businesses.”

The SBDC operates out of Valdosta State University’s Langdale College of Business. Located in Thaxton Hall, the center offers help to all local small businesses, new and old. Part of the Georgia Small Business Development Network, the VSU SBDC is one of 17 locations throughout the state, offering help with writing business plans, applying for a loan, operating business software, and marketing services or product.

The center periodically offers seminars and one-day classes on business issues, and for its latest offering, the SBDC developed a six-class Procurement Academy, focusing on how businesses can procure government contracts. Spread out over six months with one class a month, the Procurement Academy aims to take a holistic approach to businesses.

“We hold a class focusing on government contracts about once every two years,” said Ruby Riesinger, VSU SBDC area director. “There’s been a lot of local business interest in procurement lately ... whenever the economy slows, everyone wants to work with the government.”

Bidding on government contracts can be a complicated endeavor. The application paperwork alone can get up to two-inches thick, and that’s after you’ve figured out how to get the information for the bidding.

“In the classes, we’re breaking down the door so that businesses can get in,” said Riesinger.

The classes are free and held every second Wednesday, but registration in advance is required. While Riesinger recommends that business owners come to every class, there’s still a lot participants can get out of the classes if they miss the first couple.

“There’s a lot of businesses that can benefit from government contracts,” said Terri Gerhardt. As the director of procurement for VSU, it’s something she’s well-versed in.

“There are the obvious ones, like construction, landscaping, that kind of thing,” said Gerhardt. “But they have government contracts for Human Resources, for insurance ... a public school still needs custodial services, paper products, repairs.”

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