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SBA to host Federal Food Procurement Matchmaking April 19

The U.S. Small Business Administration is set to host the Federal Food Procurement Matchmaking event on April 19 at the Interamerican University of San Germán, aiming to help food entrepreneurs and federal agencies establish commercial ties.

The event has space for about 200 people, and the companies that arrive will receive guidance, although matchmaking will be limited to owners already registered on the website.

Participants are advised to bring their capability statement, and one of the requirements to be eligible for the matchmaking process is that income cannot exceed $750,000.

“In the morning, we will have orientation sessions, and in the afternoon, we will offer the opportunity to get certifications to earn a contract with a federal government that searches for disadvantaged small businesses,” said Josué Rivera, SBA district director for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We are looking for businesses to be certified and participate in this, just as we seek to join forces with agencies that have needs in the food sector because Puerto Rico is known to be a HUBzone,” Rivera said, using the acronym for Historically Underutilized Business Zone.

In 2022, President Joe Biden mandated that federal agencies contract small, disadvantaged businesses for 12% of their procurement needs, a figure likely to increase to 15% by 2025.

“Together with the agencies present, businesses will be able to make that pairing, learning about the hiring officers, the requirements, and thus be able to deliver their capability statement to that officer,” Rivera said.

“We want participants to consider this opportunity in their business plan, to think about it for their growth plan, and if they cannot secure a contract this year, then they can consider it for next year,” the SBA official said.

Organizations attending include the Chamber of Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution (MIDA, in Spanish), the United Retailers Association of Puerto Rico (CUD, in Spanish), Department of Economic Development and Commerce, Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension Inc. (PRiMEX), the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association, and the Puerto Rico Federal Contracting Center (FeCC), also known as an APEX Accelerator.

The Puerto Rico Minority Business Development Agency Business Center and Small Business Development Center jointly organized the event.

Both federal and state government agencies have partnered with a variety of business development organizations to facilitate business pairings between food suppliers and federal agencies. Presenters will outline steps required to initiate the contracting of goods and services with the federal government.

The initiative will also feature discussion sessions on lessons learned by small business owners to overcome federal hiring barriers, the SBA’s CAPLine program, and a variety of resources to help local vendors.

Procurement officers from DLA Troop Support, Veterans Administration, Bureau of Prisons, Puerto Rico National Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Mission Installation Contracting Command, and the SBA will also offer one-on-one meetings with participants.

Author Details
Author Details
Yamilet Aponte-Claudio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She graduated from Colegio Nuestra Señora de la Providencia and is currently a junior at Sacred Heart University. Majoring in Journalism and adding a minor in sustainable development and foreign languages, she aspires to study law after obtaining her bachelor’s degree.

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