ERDC seeks more local businesses

Published 7:00 pm Monday, January 21, 2019

Officials at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center want to get local businesses hooked up with SAM.

ERDC is hosting a workshop Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon at ERDC headquarters on Halls Ferry Road conducted by the Mississippi Procurement Technical Assistance Program, a division of the Mississippi Development Authority, to help local businesses register with the System for Award Management, or SAM.

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SAM is the official website of the U.S. Government that serves as the primary database for vendors doing business with the federal government. Registering in SAM is the first step to pursuing government contracts. The database allows the government to search for companies that will fit an agency’s needs.

“If you want to do business or contracts with the federal government, even through a credit card, you have to register with SAM. It would be for any federal agency,” said Kimberly Dulaney, ERDC deputy of small business programs.

“We wanted to do this (workshop) to get the local businesses in Vicksburg that were not registered in SAM to get into the system,” she said.

“We wanted to reach out to all our local vendors in the area to register in SAM. We want to increase the number of local businesses doing work with ERDC, and we hope others will get involved. Any business is more than welcome to participate.”

Tim Black, ERDC’s chief of contracting, said in 2018 more than 50 percent of ERDC’s contracts were for $150,000 or less, “So we do a lot of small contract purchases.

“Sometimes I feel like that companies are a little apprehensive of business with the government, because they believe all we do is really big stuff. So even small businesses, family businesses, they can get involved, they can contribute to our center.”

Dulaney said registering in SAM is free, and the workshop is a hands-on program where representatives from the Mississippi Procurement Technical Assistance Program will “walk participants through the actual process of getting registered in SAM.”

Participants are required to bring several things: their Dunn and Bradstreet number, tax identification number, banking information and statistical information about the business, such as annual revenue and the number of employees.

Participants should also bring a laptop computer or some means to connect with the Internet to get the SAM website and their email.

“It would be a good idea to bookmark the website,” Dulaney said, “because they will have to renew and update information in SAM each year.”

“They do require you to provide some information about your financials, and there are some notarized letters that need to be sent, so it isn’t as easy as going to a website and clicking a couple of buttons,” Black said. “(And) they have a help desk so people are allowed to ask for help.”

Dulaney added the SAM website provides the templates for the notarized documents.

She said the workshop is part of an outreach program to area businesses to get them interested in working with ERDC and showing how they can.

“We’re trying to improve awareness of what we’re doing here at the center,” Black said. “That’s one of Dr. (David) Pittman’s big things, is opening the gates of the community to ERDC; he wants to really push that.

“There’s a lot of different types of contract requirements we have, and we really want to improve the awareness here in Vicksburg, so we can get those companies nearby to help work at the center.”

Dulaney said the SAM workshop is the first of many outreach programs to the business community.

“In June, we’re planning for an industry day to tell about ERDC and what ERDC does and the type of services and supplies that we buy.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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