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Cap removal opens up 'whole new universe' page 2
A new law removes caps on the size of federal contracts open to women-owned small businesses.

 Valeh Nazemoff, vice president of Acolyst, says caps on government contracts have been a source of frustration.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 1/13/2013

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Eliminating the caps "opens up a whole new universe of contracting opportunities for Marstel-Day, in terms of both number and size of contracts," she said.

Currently, there are more than 2 million women-owned businesses in the United States, but less than 100,000 are registered to do business with the federal government, Martin-Rosa said.

Yet opportunities to do business with the federal government are wide and varied. The Pentagon, for example, has a Starbucks, a McDonald's and a dry cleaner inside its walls. And military bases, which are like small cities, need janitorial services, landscapers and office supplies.

"The federal government doesn't produce or manufacture anything but money," Martin-Rosa said. "Everything else is purchased from the public sector. It is the largest purchaser in the world."

She said federal contracts can be lucrative revenue boosters for women business owners. According to recent American Express OPEN government contracting survey, 42 percent of women-owned small business contractors generate revenues in excess of $1 million. Only 1.8 percent of all small businesses have achieved that level of success.

Martin-Rosa added that the federal government is one of the best customers of her business, Government Business Solutions, because the Prompt Payment rule requires federal agencies to pay vendors in a timely manner or face a penalty.

To help women better understand the ins and outs of applying for federal contracts, American Express OPEN, which provides tools and information for small businesses, and Women Impacting Public Policy, which advocates for women and minorities in business, are sponsoring a website called giveme5.com. It provides a wealth of information, free training webinars and policy updates on how to apply for federal contracts.

"We want to make 2013 an historical government contracting year for women-owned businesses," Martin-Rosa said. "I think we can finally reach the 5 percent goal."

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407
Email: cjett@freelancestar.com


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Here are Lourdes Martin-Rosa's tips on how to apply for federal contracts:

Register your business in a portal called System for Award Management (SAM). This helps your business get noticed by government agencies. Registration is free but requires specific company data (DUNS number, NAICS code, etc.).

Get your business certified by visiting sba.gov to determine if your firm qualifies for the Woman Owned Small Business certification as well as others.

Learn which government agencies buy your type of products and services before responding to any solicitation. Successful government contractors visit USAspending.gov, where they can find out who the federal government buys from and for how much.

Use all available resources to find information that will save you time and money. For example, you can find how-to articles, guides, videos, and tips on how to do business with the government on American Express OPEN Forum website, openforum.com.

Free monthly webinars are available at giveme5.com, a website for women-owned businesses seeking federal contracts created by Women Impacting Public Policy and American Express OPEN.