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The University of Tennessee Procurement Technical Assistance Center (TN PTAC) during the 3rd quarter, July 1 – September 30, 2022, accomplished a significant amount of counseling, sponsored/participated in several major outreach events, while at the same time, transitioning to a new client management database, Neoserra. During the quarter, TN PTAC counseled 173 new clients and generated 888 counseling hours with 803 active clients. The TN PTAC spent several hours providing counseling in SAM.gov registrations as clients were impacted by the transition in the government web-site registration software. Other areas of counseling included assisting clients with socio-economic certifications, analyzing solicitations, understanding cost proposal strategies, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Cyber Security compliance, GSA Schedules, governmental marketing research and strategies, and registering on the DLA Bid Board System (DIBBS). Overall, the TN PTAC had a good balance of new clients seeking assistance, as well as “advanced” clients seeking answers to questions or recommendations to implementing specific plans.
The Tennessee PTAC’s customer-survey-response average for the quarter was at a 91.3% rate. The TN PTAC increased its counseling activity by facilitating several one-on-one meetings for our clients with agency small business specialist and agency buyers. The PTAC counselors have used the Tennessee Valley Authority, NASA, the Veterans Administration, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y12 National Nuclear Security Complex, UCOR, Van Hool (large prime contractor) to mention a few of the agencies that have agreed to participate in in this program. The PTAC counselor sets up the meeting, attends the to observe the client and add value when necessary, and later provide feedback to the client.
TN PTAC continued its strategy of having at least one PTAC “Government Contracting 101” training event in each Region of the State (East, Middle, and West) per month totaling 213 attendees. This averaged 18 attendees per class. TN PTAC also sponsored several “Advanced” trainings that covered Cyber Security, Proposal Writing, Cost Proposal training, marketing research, and improving client capability briefing skills. The TN PTAC overall had 22 events generating 744 attendees. TN PTAC utilized its Zoom webinar license that allows for up to 500 attendees to conduct all virtual events.
During the quarter, the TN PTAC sponsored/participated in 4-major conferences and networking events as part of its outreach activities. TN PTAC sponsored a major virtual networking event – the West Tennessee Opportunities Conference, hosted National PTAC Day that had several training sessions during the day, and participated in two other major outreach networking events.
The West TN Opportunities Conference with a good portion of the agencies and attendees based from the Memphis area, was a statewide event. The event was held on July 13th and had 128 attendees. In addition to networking opportunities with agencies and large prime contractors, the training portion of the conference included: Learning government contracting dos and don’ts, providing government contracting legal updates, and understanding how to map your value proposition. During the networking segment of event, The Meet the Buyers, small businesses had an opportunity for one-on-one meetings with the following:
The TN PTAC staff hosted its virtual National PTAC Day Celebration on Wednesday, September 21, with a collection of “advanced” training topics and knowledgeable speakers. The event had 123 attendees engaged throughout the day. The training general session was broken into 2 training topics: Proposal Writing and Marketing to the government. The seminars provided information on how to analyze solicitations, how to develop effective proposals, tips in making strategic capability statements and elevator pitches to potential customers. The 6-hour event was capped in the afternoon with each TN PTAC counselor moderating an individual breakout session – one for each region of Tennessee – allowing clients to meet/network with each TN PTAC counselor and learn from 2 – 4 selected agency buyers from each regional area. The breakout sessions were titled Meet Your Counselor – How to Business in West, Middle, and East Tennessee. Some of the agency buyers included in the sessions were Memphis Light, Gas & Water, Corps of Engineers, and City of Knoxville.
The TN PTAC staff participated in the Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum's (MMBC) 15th Annual Economic Development Forum (EDF) held on August 23-25, 2022, in-person at the Renasant Convention Center, downtown Memphis, Tennessee. TN PTAC supported the MMBC EDF conference by conducting a booth during the 3-day event and sponsoring a workshop. The theme of the conference was Engaging Strategies for Growth - Creating a Sustainable Future. The conference was filled with training and networking opportunities geared toward supporting Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs).
TN PTAC also supported the MMBC EDF event by sponsoring a 1-hour “hybrid” session titled:
Growth Strategy Access to Contracts by Navigating Federal Agencies. TN PTAC invited and hosted representatives from 4-major Tennessee buying activities which included panelists:
The uniqueness of the session was that the panelists were presented digitally while the attendees were in person. Having the speakers attend virtually allowed TN PTAC to have 4 high level speakers available for a 1-hour session. The TN PTAC participated with the Department of Energy’s Management and Operational (M&O) contract leaders, Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS), Pantex Plant and Y-12 National Security Complex for a Partners in Excellence (PIE) Workshop held on Thursday, September 22, 2022, from 2 to 4 p.m. The hybrid event, featuring both in person and virtual attendance, with in-person participation options in Oak Ride, Tennessee and Amarillo, Texas. The conference had 155 small businesses attending looking to learn about upcoming construction procurement opportunities. During the quarter, the TN PTAC transitioned to Outreach Systems for a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. Outreach Systems’ Neoserra is specifically tailored to DLA contract requirements and has several improved features for program supports. The new software also improves TN PTAC’s branding. Some of the software benefits include the website training registration page feature that also records client attendance as training hours.
Another feature allows staff members to log individual professional development training attendance and hours for quarterly reports. The system also provides for an improved client registration process and onboarding – making initial communication by the TN PTAC staff more efficient.
All Tennessee PTAC staff participated in Professional Development training hours during the quarter from several federal and non-federal sources. The staff received a total of 57 hours of federal training and 94 hours in non-federal related training during the quarter.