SRU’s GCAC helps local businesses obtain government contracts

Construction workers laying asphalt

Slippery Rock University operates a Government Contracting Assistance Center that helps local businesses like paving companies pursue federal, state and local government contracts and subcontracts.

Aug. 9, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - College students aren't the only people who look to Slippery Rock University for the knowledge they need to succeed professionally. Local business owners seeking to sell their products and services to the government can get help through SRU's Government Contracting Assistance Center.

Since 1989, SRU has operated the GCAC in collaboration with California University of Pennsylvania's Government Agency Coordination Office. The GCAC provides assistance to businesses interested in pursuing federal, state and local government contracts and subcontracts.

Renee Decker

   DECKER

"Businesses come to us for help and we guide them through the process," said Renee Decker, the SRU GCAC government contract specialist. "A big thing is helping them identify what's out there and what contracts they can bid on."

Services are provided free of charge and include help marketing products and services to the government; preparing bids and proposals; and navigating registration processes, specifications and standards required for government work. A bid-matching service, which costs $24 per year, is also available.

"What's nice about the service is we help on all levels," Decker said. "There could be a seasoned government contractor who has a question about a payment or a new client who is just starting out."

Decker said people would be surprised by the types of government contracts that are available, which can include services like landscaping and snow removal or manufacturing of products from ball bearings to office supplies. The GACO/GCAC collaborative serves a five-county area in western Pennsylvania and the GCAC alone currently serves more than 400 clients from Butler and Beaver counties.

GACO/GCAC is funded through two annual grants from the Allegheny Foundation and the Department of Defense, Defense Logistics Agency, which together totaled $377,000 for the current fiscal year. The DLA funded $237,000 through a competitive grant, although GACO/GCAC serves contractors for federal, state and local governments, not just defense contractors.

GACO/GCAC is one of 94 Procurement Technical Assistance Centers across the country, with more than 300 regional offices such as the one at SRU. The U.S. Congress enacted a procurement technical assistance program in 1985 to expand the number of businesses capable of participating in the government marketplace.

"Part of the mission of the University is to be a good community member that does more than just educate students," said Decker, whose office is located in the Eisenberg Classroom Building and is also staffed by student workers. "(These programs provide) economic development that help bolster the area by bringing in more people and more jobs because of government contracts."

GACO/GCAC also provides outreach, helping existing clients and introducing services to new clients. Each year, GACO/GCAC hosts nine seminars and several webinars to train and educate clients, including events to assist business owners from different demographics that may be preferred by the government when issuing contracts. For example, GACO/GCAC recently hosted a seminar at the Abie Abraham VA Health Care Center in Butler to assist veteran-owned businesses obtain federal contracting.

"All businesses struggle with understanding government contracting and how to comply with the requirements," Decker said. "A lot of them can do the work, but it's understanding all the rules. Every business needs education on how to navigate the government contracting process."

For more information about SRU's GCAC, contact Decker at: 724.738.2346 or renee.decker@sru.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | justin.zackal@sru.edu