APEX Accelerator

The Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) is now under the management of the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) which has changed the name to APEX Accelerator. We are part of a nationwide network of community-based procurement professionals providing government contracting assistance. We help businesses pursue and perform under contracts with the Department of Defense, other federal agencies, state and local governments and with government prime contractors. APEX Accelerator support to businesses includes registration in SAM, identification of contract opportunities, help understanding requirements and in preparing and submitting bids. We are here to assist Illinois businesses with all of their government contracting needs - Federal, State, local and related subcontracting.

“The Illinois APEX Accelerator at Bradley University is provided through a cooperative agreement with the Department of Defense (DoD). Program support is made possible by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Bradley University.”

Services Offered:

  • One-on-One Counseling
  • Identifying Bid Opportunities including Customized Bid Matching Services
  • Government Vendor Registrations
  • Training Workshops and Seminars
  • Market Research/Technical Assistance
  • Subcontracting Plans/Small Business Programs
  • Business Certification Assistance
  • Proposal/Bid Preparation
  • Contract Readiness Counseling

The Illinois APEX Accelerator at Bradley is a bridge to opportunities with government agencies and prime contractors.

For more information, call (309) 677-3297 or email illinoisapex@bradley.edu.

Are you ready for government contracting?

If the answer is yes, contact your APEX Accelerator today. APEX Accelerator will work with you to review potential markets. The markets could be city, county, state, federal government agencies and large business. We help you interpret regulations and explain how you can “get your foot in the door”.

There are processes you can begin with in order to be a government ready vendor:

  • Know your product or service industry code. The federal government uses the NAICS (North American Industry Code System) as the identifier on solicitations. https://www.census.gov/naics/
  • Before you can bid on government proposals, you need to get a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI). A UEI is a unique 12-character, alpha-numeric value. You will receive a UEI when you register with SAM at https://sam.gov/content/home. Entities doing business with the federal government must use the UEI created by the system.
  • Register your business in the federal database called the System for Award Management at: https://sam.gov/content/home
  • Complete and optimize your SBA profile to increase your chances of being found by government buyers, small business liaisons, large primes, and potential teaming partners.
  • All small businesses can receive certification with the State of Illinois Small Business Set-Aside Program (SBSP). Declare your business as small at https://cpo-general.illinois.gov/sell-2-illinois.html.
  • Diverse businesses owned by minority, women and service disabled veterans may qualify for certification through the U.S. Small Business Administration at: https://www.sba.gov/contracting
  • Businesses owned by minorities, women, and persons with disabilities have increased access to State of Illinois contracting opportunities through the Business Enterprise Program (BEP). The Veteran Business Program is available to businesses owned and controlled by qualified veterans. Both can be accessed through: https://www2.illinois.gov/cms/business/sell2/bep/Pages/Default.aspx
  • There are federal certifications for federal contracting including HUBZones. Plus, private certifications that large businesses require.
  • Prepare a capability statement as a marketing tool for trade shows, buyer connection visits or email marketing.
  • Review federal government forecasting by agency. You would typically review agencies that are located in your region. For example: Select Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Department of Defense for US Army Corp of Engineers, US Army, US Navy and US Air Force.
  • Review agencies, contracting officers and solicitations with the State of Illinois.

The federal government operates under the Federal Acquisition Regulations called the Prompt Pay Act. This clause in the FAR establishes payment will be made 30 days after receipt of a proper invoice from your business. This is another reason doing business with federal agencies could be profitable for your business.

Government agencies do not make any products. They are interested in everything from food commodities to construction equipment. The government buys IT services, engineering services, training consultants’ services, manufactured components and many other products and services.

You need to know how to start the process. At first this may seem overwhelming, but not to worry we explain each step. If you have a designated person to register your business as a supplier to agencies or large businesses, that is a great place to start. The registration and certification processes do take time and your business needs to have a computer to have internet availability.

The types of products of interest to the government are commercial meaning off the shelf (COTS). But, they also have an interest with innovative products or services. APEX Accelerator advises your business on potential agencies that have an interest. The best initial approach is with agencies that are local to your business. In the ten counties the IL PTAC at Bradley represents, government agencies include: US Department of Agriculture, Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Capital Development Board, Illinois State University, Illinois National Guard, each city and each county government.

Leverage is important in the contracting process. Leverage includes:

  • Being a small business: The SBSP and BEP program certifications are important because the State of Illinois agencies issue solicitations called set-asides. The set-aside contract could be for SBSP or BEP. This means only businesses with the SBSP or BEP certification are qualified to submit the bid.
  • Federal agencies also use the set-aside process for contracting. Federal agencies are mandated that 23% of all federal contracts go to small business. Of that 23%, 5% goes to 8(a) minority disadvantaged businesses, 5% goes to women owned businesses, 3% goes to HUBZone businesses (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) and 3% goes to service disabled veteran owned small businesses. There are also price preference rules with some federal certifications.
  • Types of purchase: Micro-purchase, Simplified Acquisition Procedures, Formal/Large Contracts, Sole Source, and Set-Asides are a few. Understand the type of contract you are entering into. There are also fixed pricing schedule contracts such as GSA (General Services Administration).

Remember, nothing takes the place of customer service, fair pricing, prompt delivery, past performance, the quality of the product or service and if you have a unique product or service (innovative). With the competitive aspects of doing business, being a small business has its rewards.

APEX Accelerator is a no fee counseling service that is dedicated to helping your business find growth in the government market with your commercial product or service. We can assist you to make the process easier. To learn more about the APEC Accelerator program call (309) 677-3297.

Government Contracting 101

The Small Business Administration offers the following training to help small business understand the government contracting process. The following three paragraphs provide a short synopsis on each training to help prepare small business.

Learn more about federal contract markets and opportunities, to understand prime contract and subcontracting programs, to get an overview of SBA's HUBZONE and 8a certification programs and to learn more about Woman Owned Small Business, Veteran and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business programs.

Learn how the federal government buys products and services, learn about types of contracts and agreements used, understand key parts of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), and learn where to find additional contracting services.

Learn how government contracting programs, learn how to sell goods and services to the government and where to find additional contracting services.

The Illinois APEX Accelerator at Bradley is a bridge to opportunities with government agencies and prime contractors.

For more information, call (309) 677-3297 or email illinoisapex@bradley.edu.