PTAC needs defib STAT

With the shutting down of EMTEC the Southwest Ohio office of PTAC (which serves 33 counties) is about to flatline. If the government acronyms mean nothing to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Why you should care is another matter.

EMTEC was the “Edison Materials Technology Center” or if you read their site:

…is a non-profit, member based organization that develops technology and business strategies, sponsors and manages collaborative technology projects and programs, and provides technology and business-based assistance that facilitate the commercialization of our member companies’ new technology.

EMTEC’s focus is on products and technologies in Advanced Materials, Advanced Energy, and Instruments, Controls, and Electronics with a commitment to our mission of accelerating technology to market.

With over 25 years’ experience, EMTEC provides technical coordination, business assistance, and commercialization support to Ohio’s industry, universities, and government labs to strengthen Ohio’s industrial competitiveness in advanced energy, instruments controls, and electronics, automotive, metals and castings, nanomaterials, composites, biomaterials, and other advanced materials markets.

via Edison Materials Technology Center (EMTEC).

They had offices in Research Park that were always very quiet, with people working in little offices. I always marveled at the display in one of the small fishbowl conference rooms of “technology” they had assisted with- including a mockup of a fuel cell from UltraCell (a company that proved to be a mirage of smoke and mirrors).

But, they were the “sponsoring host” to our PTAC- or Procurement and Technical Assistance Center- an organization that helps businesses register and prepare to do business with the federal government- sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency.

Read the boilerplate govspeak from the site:

The DoD Procurement Technical Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program was established by Congress in 1985. The purpose of the program is to generate employment and to improve the general economy of a locality by assisting business firms in obtaining and performing under federal, state, and local government contracts.

The Defense Logistics Agency, on behalf of the Secretary of Defense, administers the DoD PTAP.

The Program is funded through a cost-sharing Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Defense to establish Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs), who are charged with assisting businesses in learning how to do business with federal, state, and local governments.

PTA Centers are a local resource available at no or nominal cost that can provide assistance to business firms in marketing their products and services. They offer training to businesses on how to research and bid on contracts, assist with registration requirements, provide bid-matching services, and assist with pre and post contracting issues.

via Procurement Technical Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program.

Now if you are scratching your head asking isn’t this what the Small Business Administration is supposed to do, you probably aren’t alone. However, since doing business with government is nothing like doing business in the public sector- it might make a little sense.

If you’ve never heard of CCR, ORCA, MPIN, TPIN, the FAR, FBO, or a GSA Schedule consider yourself lucky. We’ve built an entire subculture of complexity around doing business with the government. Instead of simplifying and streamlining – we created a whole new order of bureaucracy to “help” you navigate it. This is where PTAC comes in. They provide assistance and guidance in making sure you’ve filled out every possible form and met requirements to sell widgets to the government and do business with large “prime contractors” who already do business with government. And if you can stomach it all- and have the time and money to jump through all the hoops- they come in quite handy.

As a founder of VOB108 (now called VOB Ohio), a group of Veteran Owned Businesses, PTAC supported our group and our efforts to provide assistance to vets in business and wanting to re-enter the workforce- helping us find members and providing meeting spaces and help spreading our group’s message. Without them, our organization wouldn’t be where it is today- running a Vetrepreneurs Academy for over 45 vets to help them start and refine their own businesses.

And while the real answer may be that we just need to simplify our government contracting pipeline, so that proposals I make to the government are only 6 pages like I do to my clients, instead of mini-books of 150 pages or more, in the immediate short run, the loss of the PTAC services to Southwest Ohio could hurt our competitiveness.

As of next Friday, June 29, PTAC will also die with EMTEC. Possible new “hosts” or “sponsors” that would make sense are the Dayton Development Coalition (finally giving them a real reason for existing other than as high-priced quasi-governmental lobbyists), the Entrepreneurs Center, UDRI, or even sponsorship by a large government prime contractor like GE- that should feel the need to give something back to the community after getting such a big tax break for their new offices on South Patterson Boulevard.

Then again, we could realize that our entire process of government contracting is far from “free markets at work” and we could just shut down the entire PTAC program and tacitly acknowledge that the only real guarantee of government deals is by making large donations to your congressman and be done with it. Because as far as I have witnessed, that’s the best way to land a government contract.


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