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Businesses 'Meet the Buyers' at government contracting conference in Scottsbluff

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The United States government is contracting workers, and scores of small business owners and entrepreneurs converged on the Hampton Inn & Suites in Scottsbluff to hear what they had to say.

The Meet the Buyers Conference was held from Tuesday, Oct. 18 through Thursday, Oct. 20. The Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) of the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) put the event together.

“Our goal is to assist businesses in positioning themselves to gain and perform government contracts,” PTAC consultant Chuck Beck said. “The Meet the Buyers conference is one of the most valuable services that we provide to the clients that we serve.”

The conference’s purpose is two-fold. It helps businesses who want to work with the government and also allows the government to expand its pipeline for products and services.

Participating agencies included the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Small Business Administration and General Services Administration.

Military groups participating included the Offutt and F.E. Warren Air Force Bases. A few non-governmental groups also took part such as the Bechtel and Northrop Grumman companies, which will be working on an upcoming missile project in Kimball.

“Especially with supply chain issues the last couple of years, it’s extremely important for agencies to really identify additional suppliers,” Beck said.

Representatives from agencies and prime contractors met with business leaders to discuss what services they can contract and how the businesses could offer their help.

In return, the business leaders laid out what they could provide if contracted.

“I like to explain to companies (that) this is not the finish line. This is the starting gate,” Beck said. “… If you just attend to attend the conference and you don’t do some follow-up, you’re probably not going to get a contract.”

Daniel Kuchar, a PTAC business development specialist, said almost everyone who registered to attend the conference and meet the buyers was from a small business.

Many of them came from the Scottsbluff area or other parts of Nebraska, though some came from states as far away as Texas or Virginia.

“I think the feedback has been good ... I think this morning went pretty well. It’s always good to hear from a bunch of different people about the potential for business that’s out there,” Kuchar said. “… We understand there are many business opportunities here; so many small businesses that keep the state running.”

Much of the networking took place on the final day of the conference. The first day’s presentations focused on infrastructure. The second day was more education-oriented with government contracting workshops and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Quality Management Course.

Typically, Beck explained, this Meet the Buyers Conference is held twice a year. In the spring, it’s in eastern Nebraska; in the fall, it’s in western Nebraska. This is the second time it’s been held in Scottsbluff.

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Christopher Borro is a reporter at the Star-Herald. He can be reached by email at christopher.borro@starherald.com.

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