Elam shepherding companies through contracting maze

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Tom Elam has vast amounts of experience dealing with government contracts — first, as a member of the Air Force and then as a civilian.

So when Colorado received permission for its first Procurement Technical Assistance Center, organizers knew exactly who to call.

There are PTACs scattered throughout the United States, aimed at helping private businesses navigate the always-complex world of government contracts.

Elam was retired, but had done everything on his “to do” list. So, he agreed to move from North Carolina to Colorado. That was nearly two years ago, and during that time, the PTAC has seen 1,700 clients through the process.

How does the PTAC work?

Companies that are interested in getting federal contracts but have no experience doing so can come to the PTAC. We take their information, walk them through the process. Most companies don’t even know where to start. We go through a checklist to make sure they know all the steps to get into the process, to answer the request for proposals.

Then we can sign them up for notifications on contracts they’re interested in. We’re only a resource to get them into the process. We don’t affect the outcome.

We like to meet companies face to face to find out who they are. That’s the first step. After that, we’re happy to act as a resource, guide them through where to sign up, how to navigate the system.

Sometimes companies don’t realize they have an item to sell to the government — things like office supplies or specialized items. Some things can be bought locally, and not everything the government needs are big ticket items.

What has demand been like?

We’ve helped 1,700 clients through the process — there was a lot of pent up demand for this in Colorado. The Springs area is busy, but Denver is just exploding.

We’re headquartered in Colorado Springs, but we serve as a statewide resource. We have people working in Denver and one in Grand Junction on the western slope.

I spend a lot of time driving up and down the Front Range and across the state, letting people know we’re here.

Demand’s been so good that I’m going to ask the Defense Department for another counselor. That will bring the total of people who work here to eight.

Where do you get funding?

We get Department of Defense funding, but we’re required to match that with local, private funds. We look just about anywhere for help — and the Colorado Springs area has really responded. We get some funding from El Pomar, some from businesses.

What sort of economic impact have you had?

So far, we’ve brought more than $249 million in contracts to El Paso County and a total of $549 million to the state as a whole.

Companies should remember — we’re always here. We’re always open.