KENNEWICK -- Small-business owners in the Tri-Cities interested in knowing more about how to get government contract work won't have drive elsewhere in the state to get help.
A state Procurement Technical Assistance Center opened recently in Kennewick. It's housed at the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The center can help businesses in a number of ways, like reviewing and interpreting contract terms, assisting them with government registrations and certifications, marketing and offering seminars on how to do business with federal, state and local government agencies, said Heather Mayfield, PTAC business counselor.
And the help is free. Businesses don't have to be chamber members to make use of the services offered at the center, she said.
The center also has a computerized bid match service, which costs $135 annually, to provide potential business leads to contract seekers, she said. Businesses can try out the service free for 30 days to see if it works for them, Mayfield said.
She will lead a seminar on "Introduction to Government Contracting" on Dec. 16 for the public. The free program runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Tri-Cities Business & Visitor Center's Bechtel Board Room, 7130 W. Grandridge Blvd. For more information, call 736-0510.
"(The center) is a great resource for the community," said Betty Corbitt, owner of V2K Window Decor & More, who recently was helped by Mayfield to get registered to be a vendor to the government.
A lot of government contracts specify that about 5 percent of the work has to go to small businesses, and the center can help local Tri-City businesses bid for that work, she said.
This benefits the economy, broadens the tax base, creates jobs, and most importantly, keeps the money local, said Corbitt, who's looking to expand the business she started in January.
The chamber helped provide the impetus to have the center in the Tri-Cities, said Erin M. Nielsen, program manager of the state PTAC. It's a program supported by the Department of Defense and with a matching grant by a local agency -- in this case the chamber, she said.
"It's a business mentor program," Nielsen said. In the last few years, the state's eight centers have helped Washington companies get government contracts worth on average more than $150 million annually, she said.
-- Pratik Joshi: 509-582-1541; firstname.lastname@example.org; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald.com