Government Contracts Available: Richmond Co. Awards Millions Of Dollars Locally
By Neil Gordon
After 12 years of working for others, North Augusta Plumber Curtis Stark formed his own company in early 2016 with hopes to grow into larger, government contracts.
He received a $6,000 contract and hired local suppliers. But after about 12 weeks, he almost went out of business.
“My money got held up and it almost crippled my company,” said Stark.
He and more than 100 business leaders and government officials came together in mid-July to learn how to grow business in the CSRA through cash flow management and the pursuit of government contracts.
NOWaccount from Atlanta and the City of Augusta co-hosted the event.
“The opportunity exists here and we are looking for you,” said Jeri Sams, procurement director for Augusta-Richmond County.
Her department was recently honored by UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute as a top-performing Government Procurement Agency that should be emulated by other Georgia municipalities.
Augusta-Richmond County writes about $100 Million per year in purchase orders and more than 60 percent of their contracts are awarded to CSRA businesses, even though there is a mandate from the Federal government to advertise to companies outside the CSRA as well.
Augusta’s procurement department advertises weekly in area newspapers to spotlight new bids that come up. They also make public the results of previous contracts to help future bidders.
“If I was in business I’d find a previous contract that is similar,” Sams said. “I’d look at and analyze the specifications and see how much to bid.”
About 10 percent of the audience acknowledged they had either done or do business with the City of Augusta or the Federal Government. There are several ways to do business with the government and contact information is listed to the right.
NOWaccount President Lara Hodgson formed her woman-owned certified business in December 2010 in Atlanta and has done almost $160 million in invoicing on behalf of her clients.
Hodgson used to run a manufacturing company and realized how crippling cash flow issues can be when her top client ignored her Net 30 invoices.
“It became ‘Net Whenever,’” she joked.
The slow pay trickled down to her suppliers, who she had to stall with promises to pay when she got paid.
“More companies grow out of business than go out of business,” Hodgson said.
Her company charges 2.5 to 3 percent to do the invoicing for the specific “slow-pay” clients a company may have. Rather than wait 30, 60, 90 days or more for money, NOWaccount disburses 90 percent of a business’ accounts receivable within a few days and the remaining 7-7.5 percent at a later date. The risk of a slow or no-pay rests on Hodgson’s company and insurance companies backing her business model.
“I think this is a great solution,” said Amanda Schuyler, a partner with the Augusta CPA firm Hall, Murphy & Schuyler. “You can’t borrow money for 2.5 percent.”
Bobbie Lee, Executive Director of the AGC Teacher Supply Company on the Bobby Jones Expressway in Martinez, is considering the NOWaccount to help her invoice private/public companies that AGC trains. She seemed satisfied with the answers to the questions she had for Hodgson, such as “Will my customer know you’re doing the billing?” and “What’s the minimum invoice total and how do I qualify my customers?”
As for Curtis Stark and his plumbing company, he is considering bidding on part of a $5 million contract over the next several years to change over septic systems at various government properties. And he’s considering the NOWaccount.
“If I can guarantee cash flow, I can guarantee growth,” he said.
For more information about the local licensee of NOWaccount, see Kim Romaner’s column on page 8.
Doing Business With Uncle Sam
First Steps to Register
- Obtain a Data Universal Number (DUN) dnb.com/us
- Apply for a System For Award Management (SAM) sam.gov
Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business
Small Disadvantaged Business\Minority Owned
ASSISTANCE CENTER (PTAC)
SMALL BUSINESS SPECIALISTS
osdbu.gov or score.org
WOMEN’S BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER