The National Veteran Small Business Coalition Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium (VETS) is one of the most exciting veteran-focused events in which I’ve participated over the years; it never disappoints. This year, from welcome to wrap-up, VETS19 provided veteran-centric motivation, engagement, and robust networking opportunities from beginning to end! The keynote speaker, awards, veteran-owned small business pitch competition, along with the events in-between, kept all fully engaged, provided countless shared experiences, and resulted in greater networking opportunities for all. And, of course, it was my honor and pleasure to present “CPARS and Open Ratings: How they impact your bid.”
In his opening remarks, Scott Denniston, NVSBC Executive Director, reminded the audience of the goal of the event: veterans helping veterans by providing the knowledge and relationships needed for veterans to transition into business owners to service the federal government. The remainder of the week supported and proved the statement.
The keynote speaker, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Stewart Hill, presented a former British Army officer’s story of learning how to adapt, persevere, and become something other than what he had once been. Colonel Hill suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) during a battle in Afghanistan shortly after he watched as a group of his dead and injured soldiers flown to safety. “We’re taught to be strong by society in general and military specifically; however, failure to recognize you need help is actually what makes you weak. Admitting your need for help is what makes you strong.” Stewart talked about what motivated him when he was at rock bottom with the simple statement, “I owe it to my soldiers who didn’t make it to use their unrealized potential as my energy to persevere.”
Larry Trowell, Section 809 Panel Commissioner, highlighted the 90+ recommendations made by the Section 809 Panel; however, the major focus for the VETS Conference attendees was the extremely controversial provision which provides the contracting officer the flexibility to exclude small business set-asides for certain readily available products and services. Several attendees offered revisions to the recommendations which included a significant increase from the current 5% price preference stated in the recommendation.
The VETS19 Awards Luncheon celebrated John Moliere, this year’s Gordon H. Mansfield Award recipient along with federal agencies and prime contractors who met or exceeded the 3% goal of providing opportunities to veteran-owned and service-disabled veteran owned small businesses. These Champions of Veteran Enterprise continue to grow every year; however, it was the Veteran-Owned Small Business Pitch Competition, hosted by the StreetShares Foundation, which kept the energy high and attendees engaged. In a ‘Shark Tank’-like atmosphere, the top three veteran-owned company finalists had the opportunity to pitch their business for $15,000, $6,000, and $4,000 awards. After three great pitches, the VETS19 audience was given the final vote and selected the winners, Troop on the Stoop, Black 6 Coffee Trading Co., and Native or Not.
Finally, and always my favorite part of any event, is the opportunity to take the lessons learned through hands-on experience and share. While most of the attendees were aware of the Contract Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS), many did not realize how it impacts the current bid. Some of the ‘how-to’ items covered included, how to receive the highest possible CPARS rating, how to use the CPARS to expand current capabilities, and how to use CPARS to win the next bid.
The TargetGov KickStart Program™ is an affordable, individually customized program, designed to propel businesses into the Federal market and position the organization for success. One of the key take-aways covered within the KickStart Program™ includes “CPARS and Open Ratings.” For more information about the TargetGov KickStart Program™ and how it supports your firm’s growth in the federal market, contact us today! 800.579.1346 x320 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.