Small Business Matchmaker Events
Throughout each year, NH-PTAP provides New Hampshire companies with opportunities to have face-to-face contact with small business specialists from government agencies, as well as with small business liaison officers (SBLOs) from large prime contractors. NH-PTAP clients are kept informed of these opportunities, which vary in size and structure, via email. Primary sponsors of these events include the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME), the Small Business Association of New England (SBANE), the DoD Northeast Regional Council for Small Business Education and Advocacy (NERC), and the offices of House and Senate members. The SAME Small Business Showcase usually occurs in late winter and is typically held in Newton, MA. It typically draws 300 or more people and focuses on the construction and environmental industries.
The annual Northeast Regional Council Matchmaker Conference, the largest and most successful regional matchmaker event, is hosted by NERC and is usually held in the fall. Location rotates among the New England states and New York. Recent matchmakers have been held in New Haven CT, Tarrytown NY and Portland ME. Most recently, the 2011 NERC Matchmaker Conference was held October 26-28 in Burlington, VT. The 2012 NERC Matchmaker is being planned for early October in Rochester, NY.
The format is typically as follows:
- On the first day, an all-day training is provided for government small business specialists and industry SBLOs, designed to provide professional development and continuing education for these professionals. This curriculum was developed by NERC, and is unique in the US. It is suitable both for keeping existing practitioners up-to-date with regulatory and policy changes, as well as providing thorough baseline training for those new to the field.
- A full or half-day, parallel training track is offered to small businesses, covering the fundamentals of government contracting. Also offered to small businesses is a session entitled "Making the Most of the Matchmaker," which provides detailed, practical tips on how to prepare for the matchmaker event and maximize the effectiveness of your time.
- At the end of the first day, a Veteran's Roundtable discussion may be held to provide veterans and service-disabled veterans who own and operate businesses an opportunity to discuss issues of particular interest to them in a focused, respectful and supportive environment of their peers.
- Day 2 is the focal point of the Matchmaker Conference. On this day, roughly 100 tables are set up in a large hotel ballroom. Each table is assigned to a prime contractor, or Federal or State agency, and is by small business specialists, SBLOs and other purchasing personnel. The night before, tables are assigned alphabetically, and each table is issued an appointment sign-up sheet, with appointments scheduled every 10 minutes. NERC members assure that no "early birds" unfairly sign up before the designated start time. At 7:30AM on Matchmaker day, the ballroom doors are opened in a mass start, and registered small businesses enter and sign up for appointments. Sign-ups are usually complete by 7:45AM, and the pace relaxes over continental breakfast. After a brief opening ceremony, the bell sounds for the first appointment. Every 10 minutes, the bell signals a new appointment.
- This busy schedule runs all day, with a break for lunch. PTAC staff from throughout the region are on hand to assist small businesses and answer questions. Typically 300 or more small businesses attend; many are able to make dozens of appointments in a single day.
- Most small businesses go home after Day 2. Day 3 is devoted to an open meeting of the Northeast Regional Council, with an array of speakers. Typical speakers are senior procurement officials or representatives of the agencies' Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU).
For more information, contact NH-PTAP or:
NH-PTAP, which serves as a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), is funded in part through a cooperative agreement from the Department of Defense (DOD) through a program that is administered by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). The content of any written materials or verbal communications of the PTAC does not necessarily reflect the official views of or imply endorsement by DOD or DLA. NH-PTAP is also funded by the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED), and operates as a program of the Business Resource Center within the Division of Economic Development (DED).