Forum to help small businesss win government jobs

Small businesses, especially those owned by minorities, women and service-disabled veterans, are the target of an economic recovery opportunity forum Monday in Atlanta, with government contracts the prize.

The event, free and open to the public,  will offer small business owners the chance to meet with government and private sector procurement representatives with contracts to let. It is hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and SBA Georgia District Director Terri Denison.

"This is a chance to meet the people making the decisions so they get to know you and what your company is capable of," said Eugene Cornelius, deputy associate administrator for the SBA Office of Field Operations.

Cornelius advised owners to bring business cards, a job portfolio and "an elevator speech. You never know who you'll meet or connect with, so you should be prepared."

The federal government spends about $500 billion a year on goods and services, Cornelius said. Monday's focus is on contracting opportunities available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Atlanta is the third city to host a forum in the SBA tour. In Philadelphia, 900 people attended.

In addition to networking opportunities, the forum will feature a panel discussion with scheduled speakers to include Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and officials from the White House, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the General Services Administration.

The event will be at Atlanta Technical College in the Cleveland L. Dennard Conference Center at 1560 Metropolitan Parkway S.W. from 2-5:30 p.m. Businesses can register at www.sba.gov/ga.