More Dougherty small businesses seek government contracts

ALBANY, Ga. -- The office set up to help minimize the hurdles small businesses face when attempting to bid on government contracts helped Dougherty County businesses land nearly a half-million dollars in contracts in the fourth quarter of 2011, officials said.

The Dougherty County Small Business Office, as run by an arm of Georgia Tech, opened its doors July 1 of last year.

The office is meant to help level the playing field for small business owners who often find themselves at a disadvantage to larger, more established businesses, when it comes to bidding on government projects.

Chuck Schadl, the head of the program, told Dougherty County Commissioners Monday that 51 firms are now certified as Dougherty County Small Business Enterprises -- a move that allows them access to the program's resources and tools.

That number is up 44 percent from when the program started, Schadle said.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, Dougherty County businesses and others in the 29-county area serviced by the program were awarded more than $559,000 in federal, state and local government contracts, $441,000 of which went to Dougherty County businesses alone.

Schadl recommended that, moving forward, the county consider putting out updated forecasts of business contracting opportunities to entice more participation in the program and that the county obtain quotes from participants in the program for small, discretionary spending items.

He also said that his office is planning to add additional staff to conduct more outreach and to bolster participation in the program.

The county originally had a program to assist minority- and women-owned businesses with government contracting, but that program was nixed after the results of a disparity study required a race- and gender-neutral program.