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Our recent Native Edge Institute in Niagara Falls, New York was a major success! Our Lead Business Development Specialist, Yvette Fielder, was in Niagara for NEI New York and provides us a great overview of our first Northeast Native Edge Institute. If you’re in the area, make sure to join us for NEI Maine on June 20th!

NEI New York was kicked off by a welcome message from our host, the Seneca Tribe and their beautiful Seneca Resort. NEI New York featured industry leaders who discussed the new rules and regulations of federal contracting, and the benefits of certification programs and set-aside programs. They reviewed eligibility criteria, affiliation concerns, and how to maintain eligibility. Small business contracting programs that were discussed were the 8(a) Business Development Program, HUBZone, Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, Woman Owned Small Business, and Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business Program.

Later in the day, representatives from the National Center were able to meet with new clients at the round table discussions to answer more specific questions that participants had. We were excited to feature one of our clients and who was able to discuss her topic of successfully navigating & graduating from the 8(a) program. Janis Jones, President and CEO of GP Contracting and an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, spoke about her federal construction woman-owned small business based in North Virginia, highlighting her journey and evolution of starting a small commercial plumbing business and expanding to a full-service federal construction business. Ms. Jones described the steps she took to navigate the 8(a) application process and her success in winning both competitive 8(a) contracts and developing a succession plan.

We also heard from another one of our successful 8(a) firm owners, Darren Masten from California. Mr. Masten spoke about his struggles and hurdles, as well as the advantages of the 8(a) certification but also about state, city and private corporation certifications. He identified the strategic use of the Supplier diversity initiatives while detailing how performance makes a difference.

We also heard Jeffery Ellis, CEO of Seneca Holdings, which is the investment arm for the Seneca Nation of Indians and parent company of the Seneca Nation Group – a family of companies providing products and services to the federal government. Mr. Ellis provided an insightful overview of Seneca Holdings and suggestions for moving and growing your business ideas into meaningful contracts and ways to work with the federal government marketplace.

In the end, building new relationships in a new part of the country was positive for both attendees and the National Center, and we are now one-third of the way to our in-region client goal. But perhaps most importantly, we received great feedback from attendees who learned a lot about contracting – knowledge they will soon use in their own business development.