Doing business with the government

Any person in business can procure work from the government. Whether you, as a business owner, decide to take advantage of that opportunity is probably based on many factors.

While many businesses thrive on the contracts they procure from the government, more businesses shy away from the process for a variety reasons. Perhaps they think their chances are slim because they don’t hold a minority business enterprise status, or they don’t have the right contacts, or they don’t have enough money to gain the right contacts.

While it does essentially come down to who you know, the process may not be as complicated as you expect.

“The more you participate in the political process, the more active you are in your community that you’re trying to do work in … that increases your chances to do work for that governmental entity,” says Lou Berroteran, vice president, government relations, for the Akron Chamber of Commerce.

Berroteran’s job is twofold: He advises companies on how to get work from the government and lobbies elected officials locally and in Columbus and Washington to pass legislation that will help companies back home. Both roles position him squarely as an advocate for business, but before accepting the position for the chamber, he saw things from a different side. His experience as director of administration for Summit County and as district director for Rep. Tom Sawyer gave him first-hand knowledge of the procurement process, he says.

Beyond filling out the paperwork, Berroteran says your best bet is to let the elected official in charge of the department you want work for “see that you want to be more than that person who gets the work and walks out.

“The companies that are going to participate in the community and that have something at stake because they have an office here and employees that live here, by and large are the ones that are going to provide the best level of services,” he says.

In fact, the city of Akron states on its vendor application form that “purchases are normally made from firms located in the city of Akron whenever it is cost effective.”

If you are an active member of the community you’re seeking business from and you have filed a vendor application (which can usually be obtained from the city, county or state’s purchasing department), the process is not always a slow one.

“If the need’s there, it can happen relatively quickly,” Berroteran says.

How to reach: Greater Akron Chamber, (330) 376-5550