The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Friday, December 2, 2022, in a bid to strengthen and expand small business development nationally. The most obvious immediate change is that the more than 90 Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) will be renamed APEX Accelerators, and the DOD and SBA are hopeful that this rebranding will bring new life to the program, which provides free procurement assistance to small businesses that work with all levels of the government, whether federal, state, or local.
The SBA and DOD have worked together in the past, but the agencies are now expecting to collaborate more. The agencies will be working together closely to find ways to integrate training from each agency to benefit small business contractors, and plan to conduct one national event each year.
Formerly housed within the Defense Logistics Agency, APEX Accelerators will now be part of the DOD’s Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP). APEX Accelerators mission is to “serve as the axis for existing and new business to strengthen the defense industrial base by accelerating innovation, fostering ingenuity, and establishing resilient and diverse supply chains,” but, the assistance is not solely for contractors working with the DOD.
APEX Accelerators can be very helpful for those companies that are just starting out in the federal contracting business, that are looking to expand their footprint, or that want some free advice on business development. They can also provide referrals to many other resources out there.
Small business contractors can get assistance from the SBA at the more than 1,000 Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) and at APEX Accelerators locations. In general, the assistance provided through the SBDC or APEX Accelerators is offered free of charge, and both offer a wide range of assistance to government contractors. Help is offered to all government contractors through APEX Accelerators, while the SBDCs offer assistance solely to small businesses. More specifically, assistance is given to small businesses in the pursuit of federal, state, and local government contracts. This includes help with the small business certification process, registration in the System for Award Management (SAM), identification of contracting opportunities, help understanding requirements and preparing bids, and assisting with the early stages of starting a business. In addition to the assistance listed specifically by APEX Accelerators, local APEX Accelerators list the following forms of assistance, and more:
- Free and confidential one-on-one counseling
- Vendor website registration assistance
- Electronic Bid Matching Service
- Interpreting government solicitations
- Government contract research assistance
- Contract preparation
- GSA Federal Supply Schedules
- Help finding bidding partners
- Identification of contract teaming and joint venture partners
- SAM registration and registering your business in government databases
- Marketing to government and prime contractors
- Responding effectively to solicitations
- Obtaining federal Set-Aside certifications
- Federal accounting and invoicing practices
- Research strategies for accessing federal, state and local government markets
Even though DOD’s PTACs will rebrand as APEX Accelerators, the more than 1,000 SBA Small Business Development Centers will continue operating under that name. The Director of the DOD OSBP, Farooq Mitha, stated that the transition to APEX Accelerators is expected to be complete by the end of 2023. Currently, it is unclear whether APEX is an acronym, or simply a catchy name.
For additional information on APEX Accelerators, and to find the office nearest to you, visit APEX Accelerators.
For additional information on the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers, visit Small Business Development Centers.
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