OPEN for Government Contracts: Victory in Procurement (VIP) for Small Business

American Express OPEN Announces Multi-Partner Government Contracting Program to Help Small Business Owners Win Government Contracts and Stimulus Funds

American Express OPEN, the small business division of American Express, recently launched OPEN for Government Contracts: Victory in Procurement (VIP) for Small Business, a national program to help small business owners capitalize on the enormous growth opportunity provided through government contracts. By partnering with Business Matchmaking (www.businessmatchmaking.com), SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” (www.score.org) and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) (www.giveme5.com), OPEN’s VIP program is expected to help business owners at every level of contract readiness access as much as $1 billion in procurement opportunities.

The VIP program was launched in San Francisco at a Teaming USA event headlined by American Express OPEN and Business Matchmaking. Teaming USA, a component of the VIP program, helps facilitate teaming relationships among small business owners interested in government contracting through live events, online resources and an interactive web site (www.TeamingUSA.com). At the event, OPEN® unveiled the VIP program’s interactive, step-by-step online resource (www.OPEN.com/governmentcontracts), which is designed to help guide business owners through the government contracting process – from registration on the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) to generating repeat business with the federal government.

Having spent nearly $400 billion in fiscal year 2007, the federal government is the world’s largest single purchaser of goods and services. With an additional $787 billion in economic recovery funds to be spent and a procurement goal to award 23% of federal contracting dollars to small firms, the federal government represents one of the few major areas of growth in today’s economy.

“America’s small businesses have long been considered the engine of our economy, and we need their ingenuity and resourcefulness more than ever to help create jobs and get the economy back on track,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. “Business owners need more business. New customers directed to small business is essential to forge the path to economic recovery. The federal government is a big customer who can make a big difference for many small businesses. Our partnerships with Business Matchmaking, SCORE and WIPP will help business owners learn about and win valuable, new contracts to grow their businesses, increase their ability to hire new employees and help revive this economy.”

OPEN for Government Contracts: Educate, Enroll, Engage and Execute

Despite the enormous growth opportunity presented by federal contracts, 40% of business owners do not have any knowledge of how to apply for federal contracts. In addition, 40% are not sure their product or service is purchased by the federal government, according to a SCORE survey of 1100 small business owners.

The VIP program aims to address this issue and has set the following goals:

1. Educate: Help one million business owners better understand the contracting process

2. Enroll: Encourage 100,000 businesses owners to get “contract-ready” by registering on the CCR or obtaining the proper certification(s) for their businesses

3. Engage: Facilitate up to 10,000 teaming, mentoring and coaching opportunities for businesses

4. Execute: Help business owners secure $1 billion in government contract and sub-contract commitments

“Economic downturns underscore the importance of having a broad set of customers, and doing business with the federal government is one way for business owners to diversify their base,” said Sobbott. “American Express OPEN is committed to providing business owners with the rich educational resources and hands-on support they need to succeed in government contracting.”

Victory In Procurement (VIP) – An Integrated Approach to Government Contracting

The VIP program is a comprehensive offering that helps small business owners get the insight and experience they need to win government contracts.

The program provides business owners with the following resources:

     

  • Connections: Allows business owners to connect with procurement officials at federal, state and local government agencies through American Express OPEN and Business Matchmaking’s procurement matching system and events.
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  • Teaming: Helps business owners foster teaming relationships across industries and geographic regions through Teaming USA events and the Teaming USA online networking tool, www.teamingusa.com.
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  • Coaching and Mentoring: Offers business owners one-on-one coaching and mentorship opportunities facilitated by American Express OPEN Advisor on Government Contracting, Lourdes Martin-Rosa, SCORE’s speed coaching program and WIPP’s Give Me 5: Education and Access for Women in Federal Contracts program (www.giveme5.com).
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  • Events: Offers business owners a comprehensive event calendar to provide them with a chance to learn best practices, connect with other business owners and form relationships with procurement officials at major government agencies.
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  • Online Training and Resources: Provides business owners with a virtual classroom on government contracting. VIP’s new interactive Web site, www.OPEN.com/governmentcontracts, provides step-by-step access to hands-on training and education resources, in-depth guides, case studies and checklists to assist in the various steps of the contracting process.
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The VIP program’s interactive, step-by-step online resource (www.OPEN.com/governmentcontracts), provides the following government contracting course curriculum to help business owners navigate various areas of the government contracting process:

     

  • Level 1: What is Government Contracting?: Provides an introduction and overview on government contracting; Outlines the reasons to pursue contracts and lists business resources.
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  • Level 2: Prepare Your Business for Government Sales: Provides an overview on how to prepare for success in government contracting; Includes access to research tools for high potential opportunities and a dynamic funding map for federal procurement agencies
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  • Level 3: Get Involved in Mentor-Protégé Programs: Explains how to find and select a good mentor and become a protégé to another business when pursuing government contracting opportunities; Outlines the qualifications for several federal agency mentor-protégé programs
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  • Level 4: Become An Accomplished Government Contractor: Explains how to be successful on an ongoing basis in government contracting.
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For more tips about contracting, OPEN has also developed OPEN BOOK: Government Contracting, a step-by-step guide for small business owners interested in doing business with the government. To access the OPEN BOOK guide, please visit: http://www.openforum.com/governmentcontracts.

American Express OPEN also authored a series of targeted, in-depth worksheets called OPEN Insights, which walk business owners through various government-contracting topics, such as repeat sales and teaming. To download the guides, please visit http://www.openforum.com/governmentcontracts.

About American Express OPEN®

American Express OPEN is dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies. OPEN supports business owners with exceptional service. With tailored products and services, the team delivers purchasing power, flexibility, control and rewards to help customers run their business. Specifically, business owner customers can leverage an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings, including charge and credit cards, convenient access to working capital, robust online account management capabilities and savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners. To obtain more information about OPENSM, visit www.OPEN.com, or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card. Terms and conditions apply.

American Express Company www.americanexpress.com is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.

About Business Matchmaking

Business Matchmaking (BMM) is the nation’s premier public-private initiative supporting procurement opportunities for small business in every industry. During the past six years, BMM has facilitated more than 75,000 face to face small business/buyer meetings and enabled several billions of dollars in government and major corporate contracts being awarded.. Participating small companies are mostly minority, women and veteran owned firms. http://www.businessmatchmaking.com.

About SCORE

Since 1964, SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 8.3 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through counseling and business workshops. More than 11,200 volunteer business counselors in 370 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800/634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE on the Web at www.score.org.

About Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)

Women Impacting Public Policy is a national bi-partisan group comprising over half a million members. The non-profit organization is the public policy voice for 45 national Women in Business groups and is The Voice for Women in Business in Our Nation’s Capital. WIPP strengthens its members’ sphere of influence in the legislative process, creates economic opportunities for members and builds alliances with other small business organizations. Visit www.wipp.org.

 

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