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Past Workshop Highlights

At GSA we know that businesses are the engines that power job growth. That’s why in 2011 and early-2012 we held a series of workshops that helped businesses better understand the intricacies of the federal marketplace and GSA’s contracting vehicles. GSA’s Business Breakthrough workshops offered companies a robust agenda of up-to-date information on how to successfully navigate government contracting in order to spur job creation.

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GSA Administrator Speaks at Philadelphia Workshop

Michael Strautmanis, White House Deputy Assistant to the President, speaks with participants at the Business Breakthrough event in Philadelphia, Nov. 1-3, 2011.

Nov. 1-3, 2011

More than 70 small and large business owners, representing 55 companies, gathered Nov. 1 to participate in the tenth GSA Business Breakthrough workshop at the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Philadelphia. Participants received the special added bonus of hearing from GSA Administrator Martha Johnson and Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President.

Johnson emphasized the importance of the Government supporting small businesses in Federal procurement as one of our premiere tools in stimulating our economy and creating new jobs. She also elaborated on her vision for leading GSA to achieve a Zero Environmental Footprint in support of Federal Sustainability mandates as well as the agency's focus on attracting innovative businesses to the Federal marketplace.

Strautmanis echoed the significance of small businesses in Federal procurement and thanked GSA for taking the lead in creating the Business Breakthrough Program to assist small businesses as they transition into the large business competition pool.

Regional Administrator David Ehrenwerth, Doreen Waltrich, Senior Procurement Analyst representing PBS Regional Commissioner Rob Hewell and Linda Chero, FAS Regional Commissioner completed the morning's agenda by sharing their unique regional perspective and providing valuable insight for doing business successfully within the Mid-Atlantic Region.

Day Two of the three-day workshop featured regional subject matter experts from the Public Buildings Service (PBS) and Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) to afford participants the opportunity to ask them any business related question. PBS' Sustainability experts Joe Parisi and Harold Quinn shared the Mid-Atlantic region's most recent progress and initiatives made to support the agency's Sustainability goals while contracting officers Michelle Donnnelly, Kevin Funk, Joseph Lindsay, and Tina Phillips discussed construction and facilities maintenance/management opportunities.

The FAS Director of the Assisted Acquisition Service (AAS), Bob Vitelli, explained how AAS operates and supports Federal customer agencies by providing full-service acquisition support services.

The Mid-Atlantic attracted the largest audience to date and GSA received very positive feedback and appreciation from the participants. T. Sheridan of New Age writes, "I learned how to develop more business with GSA and PBS through the conference and New Age Development Group will grow its business with GSA over the next year and in future years.”  I created a partnership while in the conference with an A&E design firm to go after a nice opportunity at a local VA and seem to have many other partnerships or teaming agreement arrangements in order when the fit is right. The conference has opened my eyes to new avenues and the ability to partner with other entities to accomplish the common goal of making money."

Special thanks and appreciate to Mari McNally and Helena Koch, co-Directors of the Mid-Atlantic's Office of Small Business Utilization (OSBU). Both played a vital role in supporting the Business Breakthrough team and identifying the most experienced small and large businesses who would best benefit from this program.

The final workshop will be the Washington, DC area, December 6-8, 2011. Interested firms should visit to learn about the workshop's content and registration information.

Atlanta Workshop Attracts Business Owners
Pam Lackey speaks during the Business Breakthrough event in Atlanta, Ga., held Sept. 26-29, 2011.

Aug. 26-29, 2011

GSA’s Business Breakthrough Program completed its eighth regional city workshop in downtown Atlanta at Georgia Tech University’s Research Technology Center on Sept. 26-29, 2011. More than 70 large and small business owners from Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina attended the three-day training to learn new strategies for growing their businesses to the next level, while sharing their own lessons learned in the Federal marketplace.

Regional Administrator, Shyam K. Reddy, shared his passion and commitment to assisting small businesses in the Southeast Sunbelt region by continuing to develop new and creative ways to engage experienced, innovative businesses in his region’s procurement culture. Reddy’s enthusiasm was evident as he initiated a spontaneous Q&A session to give attendees an opportunity to learn more about his vision, plan and priorities for including mature small and new large businesses in GSA’s vendor engagement plans. Mary Wood, acting Deputy Regional Commissioner, Public Building Services (PBS) gave opening remarks and Pamela Lackey, Director, PBS Acquisition Management Division, provided an overview of how PBS purchases products/services as well as an update of first quarter FY12 procurement opportunities. Diane Hix-Waterford, Branch Chief, Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS), Federal Acquisition Service explained how business owners that provide professional and Information Technology services can become a part of the AAS solutions team for its Federal customer agencies. The Office of Small Business Utilization’s (OSBU) Director, Mildred Quinley and OSBU program analyst Dinora Gonzalez provided insight and additional counseling about the intricacies of doing business successfully within the Southeast Sunbelt Region.

The workshop ended with a standing ovation to GSA for developing this program and bringing this caliber of training program to businesses outside of the DC area. R. Searcy, Vice President of JJE. LLC, a service disabled veteran owned business, added: “[Business Breakthrough] was an awakening of the GSA growth model and capacity of strength the organization has cultivated. I am truly impressed by the experience and onsite Ed-Awareness provided by the GSA Team. My professional thoughts highlight GSA as the Federal INDUSTRY's poster child for empowering businesses. Thank you for the motivational resource information that must now be taken to the next level by all GSA Business Breakthrough Participants.” Another satisfied attended noted, “The program was well constructed to address areas that are generally difficult to understand on your own without outside help/support. The staff presented it in a wonderfully engaging way that made learning easy and eliminated fear of interacting and revealing what you may not know/understand.”

This year’s regional workshop tour will end in December 2011. The next workshop will be in Philadelphia on Nov.1-3 and the final opportunity for firms to participate will be Dec. 6-8, 2011, in Washington, DC. Interested firms should visit to register now. Seating is limited!

Bay Area Hosts Business Breakthrough Workshop
FAS Regional Commissioner Michael Gelber speaking at Business Breakthrough workshop in San Francisco.

San Francisco
Aug. 30 - Sept. 1, 2011

Business Breakthrough hosted its Pacific Rim Region workshop on Aug. 30, 2011 in downtown San Francisco. Newly appointed Regional Administrator, Ruth Cox, kicked off the event by welcoming the 50-plus business representatives and sharing her commitment to maintain strong government-industry relationships, focus on sustainability as well as the agency’s Zero Environmental Footprint goal. Public Buildings Service (PBS) Regional Commissioner, Jeff Neely and Federal Acquisition Service (FAS), Regional Commissioner, Michael Gelber (pictured), followed with insight into the mechanics of how each business line supports its Federal customers and purchases its products and services.

On Day Two, Les Yamagata, Senior Policy Advisor explained the FAS Assisted Acquisition Service (AAS) business model and gave helpful insight for attendees interested in providing solutions as a prime or subcontractor. PBS Regional Procurement Officer (RPO) Jewel Johnson provided valuable insight regarding PBS’ regional procurement culture with special emphasis on how construction projects are contracted, the importance of past performance and reiterated the value in subcontracting as a solid path for firms interested in developing Federal experience. John Powell, Director, Business Operations, Pamela Smith-Cressel, Director, Regional Office of the Small Business Utilization (ROSBU), Pacific Rim Region and Lori Falkenstrom, ROSBU Business specialist, were present for the entire workshop to provide one-on-one counseling and expertise regarding Small Business Program policy, laws and initiatives.

Mile High City Hosts Fourth Workshop
Picture from Business Breakthrough in Denver

Aug. 2-4, 2011

The three-day workshop began with Opening Remarks provided by Regional Administrator, Susan Damour.  The 50-plus attendees learned first-hand from regional program experts Richard Hogue, PBS Regional Procurement Officer (pictured) and Cheryl Ansaldi, FAS Customer Service Director about the region’s most utilized procurement methods, as well as regional program successes and challenges in fulfilling their Federal customer needs.  Sustainability lead from the PBS Facilities Management Services Division, Jessica Higgins, offered valuable insight into the region’s latest advances in green building products/technology and the agency’s Green Proving Ground Program.  Special guest Charley Schollaert from GSA’s website provided a “live” demo of this new social media tool that allows the vendor community to interact with GSA officials, share their thoughts/concerns as  well as share experiences and feedback with our vendors.  This surprise addition to the workshop resulted in many attendees joining the Interact community immediately.

K. Green representing a large Facilities management firm that currently holds both a GSA Schedule and IDIQ contracts with PBS, shared that Business Breakthrough was a worthwhile use of her time.  She registered for the workshop expecting to learn more about Contract Compliance and Teaming/Subcontracting opportunities.  However, in addition to both subject areas being covered extensively, she also met some quality small businesses that offer complimentary services that will help her firms meet its Subcontracting Program goals!

C. Meagan of Post Modern Company, a video production firm currently on GSA Schedule, shared that one of the most insightful portions of the training was a live demonstration of the Federal Procurement Data System-Next Generation (FPDS-NG) which helps businesses identify buying trends of certain agencies and tracks the success of competitors.

The workshop attendees were very appreciative of the opportunity to partake in Business Breakthrough and learn more advanced information about GSA’s procurement culture, buying trends, and strategies for developing a successful marketing plan. 

National Program Kicks Off in the Big Apple

New York
May 23-27, 2011

At the initial workshop, there was solid participation from businesses that gained valuable information and connections and walked away better equipped to do business with the government.

One business that was recently awarded a Logistics Schedule expressed keen interest in becoming a mentor in GSA’s Mentor-Protégé program to gain a competitive edge and shared the sentiment that their business is too small to compete with the largest of firms but does not qualify as “small” by SBA’s definition.

Another participant, Mary Endsley from a company that is both a current GSA Engineering Schedule holder and Public Buildings Service contract holder, enthusiastically said the program gave a great "full picture" of doing business with GSA that she hadn't had before. Mary also eagerly offered her insights for the benefit of those businesses less experienced with government contracting and made connections with potential business partners.

Smaller businesses were also in the mix, including an IT-re-seller and an IT services company with cloud services capabilities, who walked away with meaty food for thought about whether they would invest in submitting a GSA Schedules offer or not, given the already stiff competition on the IT 70 Schedule.

All walked away with tools and information to better compete in government contracting.

There were 26 participants in NY (a smaller group as we developed and tested the program), and we’re excited about the benefits they walked away with, as well as the positive and constructive feedback we are receiving about how to make the program better.

GSA Regional Administrator, Denise Pease, provided opening remarks and regional representatives from the Federal Acquisition Services' Assisted Acquisition Services (AAS), the PBS Regional Procurement Officer, and Director of the Office Supplies Acquisition Center engaged attendees about business practices from their respective organizations.


GSA’s mentor-protégé program

Participants in workshops will have access to GSA’s mentor-protégé program with procurement benefits for both mentors and protégés. For more information, please visit:

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