Should Veteran-Owned Enterprises be Optimistic as we Head Into 2017?

Matthew Pavelek, Vice President of Membership at the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), sees a bright year ahead.

His organization’s mission is to create opportunities for all of America’s veteran-owned businesses. The association’s members include both VOBs and corporations.

2017 should be a great year for government contracts for veteran-owned businesses and veteran-owned small businesses (VOBs and VOSBs).

Matthew Pavelek, VP of Membership, National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA)

Pavelek says the June 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision on Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. vs. United States was positive news for VOBs. The Supreme Court decided that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs must set aside more contracts to be filled by VOSBs.

The court unanimously decided that the department has not fulfilled its obligation to steer more business to small companies owned by VOBs and SDVOSBs simply by meeting its annual contract targets. The decision, say experts, is likely to assist more VOBs competing for the billions of dollars in contracts that the VA awards.

Brian K. St. Ours, founder of the Veteran Owned Business Project, agrees with the optimistic outlook. “We’ve heard from several of our members who feel fairly optimistic about their chances getting into and/or growing in the government contracting space,” said K. St. Ours. “Maybe it’s just optimism about government work or maybe it’s just optimism that the economy will continue to improve.”

The project offers a member network directory of small, medium and large businesses owned by veterans, service-disabled veterans, disabled-veteran business enterprises (SDVOSBs / DVBEs) active duty military, reservists and military spouses.

It can be an intense struggle to win public sector business, says Maria Horton, CEO of EmeSec. The Chantilly, Va.-based firm evaluates the IT security postures of its government and commercial customers. EmeSec also provides cybersecurity solutions, engineering services and cloud security expertise.

The government contracting market will remain fiercely competitive. There has been a lot of consolidation of contracts and many sub-contractors may risk losing their base.

Maria Horton, CEO, EmeSec

Horton advises VOBs and other business owners to go after niche market opportunities and services, and to “really hone in on building the capabilities that will allow them to gain expert recognition and best meet customer requirements.”

Veteran Owned Businesses are Key Contributors to the U.S Economy

According to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, about nine percent of all U.S. non-farm businesses are majority-owned by veterans. Those firms employ 5.8 million employees and dispense $210 billion in annual payroll. More than 38 percent of those VOBs have annual sales of $500,000 or more.

Governments recognize the value of encouraging VOBs to take part in the contracting process. Federal contract dollars awarded to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) reached an historic high in fiscal-year 2015. For the fourth consecutive year, the federal government exceeded its contracting goal for SDVOSBs, achieving 3.93 percent or $13.8 billion of all federal small-business-eligible contracting dollars.

States, likewise, are giving VOBs a place at the contracting table. For example, analysis on government set-asides from Onvia shows that New York has committed to a six percent goal of spending on SDVOSBs – double the federal government goal of three percent.

Resources to Help Veteran-Owned Firms Win More Government Contracts

Opportunities are growing for VOBs, says Chuck Schadl, Group Manager, Government Contracting Services at the Georgia Tech Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

According to statistics compiled by the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) each year, there has been growth in the past several years in the dollar value of federal contracts awarded to VOSBs. There is no reason to expect that growth to stop.

Chuck Schadel, Group Manager, Georgia Tech PTAC

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) are one of the best-kept secrets in the Business-to-Government (B2G) marketplace. They’re charged with helping businesses, including VOBs, compete for government contracts with free technical support. More than 300 local PTAC offices serve most areas of the U.S. Go here to find a PTAC in your area.

VOBs need to identify and consult their local PTAC, Schadl explains. The PTAC can help firms get “verified” as an eligible VOSB and find contracting opportunities.

PTACs are equipped to help with both of these tasks, Schadl says. In the past 2 years, the VA has trained PTAC Counselors across the country on how to screen VOSBs for eligibility. VA-certified PTAC counselors are listed by state here. PTACs also offer training events and webinars on all aspects of how to do business with the public sector, including for VOSBs.

EmeSec’s Maria Horton also urges VOBs to participate in mentorship programs through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Defense and other agencies. “These programs will allow the business to secure advice, expertise, and likely access to resources and new opportunities,” Horton says.

Following that approach, EmeSec has set up its own Board of Advisors, which Horton says been productive by providing them with valuable perspectives on emerging markets as well as customer and macro-economic trends.

Government Opportunity for SDVOSBs Made Easier with Onvia

Onvia is here to support VOBs, and empower them to achieve their goals in business. We’ve created, and continue to expand, a library of business resources to help your company grow. We’re committed to helping VOB’s thrive in government contracting.

Michael Litchev, Small Business Specialist, Onvia

Onvia’s Guide for Small Business provides a low-cost source of state and local government bid and RFP leads. Through the offering, VOBs and other firms learn of government bidding opportunities before their competitors. It’s the perfect solution for vendors that sell in three states or less.

VOBs can now enjoy a 25 percent discount off the subscription price - Simply enter the promo code VOB during registration. Go here to register.