It’s not particularly a secret, but it’s not the best known department at John A. Logan College either. But, the positive impact it makes on the small business community in the area is profound.

The purpose of the Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is to provide specific marketing and technical assistance that will help encourage an increased share of the contract dollars procured each year by the government back to the southern Illinois business community. The ultimate mission is to provide for a sound industrial and service base comprised of government contractors who will serve to facilitate job creation and job retention.

The PTAC can be a best friend to small businesses who want to get a boost through government contracts that could eventuate into a giant leap for their company. For the region, it could mean more and better jobs. The beautiful part of this scenario is many of the government agencies want to distribute their contracts in such a manner. Logistically, it’s only a matter of connecting with area clients.

Thus the role of PTAC!

Chris Barr, director of the organization, explains the PTAC was initiated to compliment the state’s overall economic development efforts by helping established Illinois firms compete for government contracts. Federal, state, and local governments spend more than $500 billion annually on various products and services, much of which is with small businesses. “Our main objective is to help eliminate some of the frustration and intimidation often associated with doing business with the government. It’s a very competitive arena.

The JALC unit is one of ten PTACS in Illinois, most of which are hosted by community colleges. They are associated with and supported by such agencies as the Department of Defense and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Has the PTAC impacted the southern Illinois community? You be the judge. Since the inception of the Center in 1985, the PTAC has assisted clients in contract awards exceeding $1.4 billion! This positive influence in business success equates in job creation.

Assistance in the procurement process by the PTAC is at no cost to the clients and may include facets such as contact preparation, acquisition, or administration. Whether this assistance entails the provision of a federal acquisition regulation (FAR), a military/federal specification, the past pricing history on a contract, or help with various registration and certification processes, any one step in this process can be the deciding factor in determining whether a firm is prepared to submit a qualified bid to the government. All efforts are directed towards ensuring information flows both ways between the government and business.

PTAC Insight: Hal Bursett, Manager of Contracts and Supply Chain Management, working for General Dynamics, the Marion-based munitions contractor, will attest to the role of the Center for southern Illinois. “The value and support of the Procurement Technical Assistance Center is a vital tool in our goal to identify and utilize qualified small businesses to the greatest extent possible. From bid solicitations, to exploring potential suppliers, this all bodes well for economic development.” Bursett added, “General Dynamics embraces the opportunity to work with the PTAC while helping us meet our small business goals and objectives with some of our federal contracts. PTAC presents a win-win for business and education and we are appreciative of the support they provide to General Dynamics.

WBT, a Centralia-based company, is an innovative manufacturer in cable management products and has utilized the customized electronic bid matching software available at no cost to clients. Gary Turner, WBT partner and co-owner, offers: “The PTAC office has been a great resource for WBT. Their assistance is so beneficial to small business. The Bid-Match tool has allowed me to filter through and pin point projects specific to our industry and product line.

Special Mine Services, located in West Frankfort, specializes in the molding of rubber connectors used in mining, tunneling, heavy industry, and the entertainment industry and has been a long-standing client with the Center. Steve Kissinger, Sales Manager and point of contact for government contracting shares “We at Special Mine Services have realized a good relationship with PTAC over the years – both informational and for training when required. They have always been easy to access and worked with us to their full capacity.

Additionally, the PTAC is a member of Illinois Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth Association which includes Entrepreneurship Centers, Small Business Development Centers, International Trade Centers, Illinois Manufacturing Extension Centers, and Illinois Technology Centers. The ILPTAC located at John A. Logan College works with businesses in the 30 southernmost counties of the state. Any prospective or existing Illinois business owner may take advantage of the services available through this network. Visithttp://www.ildceo.net/dceo/Bureaus/Entrepreneurship+and+Small+Business/ to find out more about specific business assistance.

For more information, contact Chris Barr, Director, at 618-985-2828 (8571) or toll free at 1-800-851-4720. Inquiries can also be forwarded to chrisbarr@jalc.edu or ptac@jalc.edu.