Small firms make a name for themselves in DC

Small businesses are broadening their reach in the federal marketplace, working their way toward becoming major players on communications contracts.

Small businesses are broadening their reach in the federal marketplace, winning contracts from major departments and agencies, and working their way toward becoming major players on communications contracts.

Hiring small businesses is part of a government-wide effort to make sure they're not only noticed, but competing and winning federal accounts, said Jim Krol, executive director of the Small Business Government Communicators Network.

"Some of these things we are doing, building collaboration between government and industry, highlights the work small businesses are able to do. They're hungry; they want to be successful," he said.

The government has come to understand that small businesses are capable of and have the talent to do the same work as larger firms in many cases. Krol said the variety of services that small businesses offer can often be intriguing. For instance, some concentrate just on PR campaigns while others might offer a broader range of services.

"That's kind of the beautiful part of it: the government, no matter what it needs, can find someone," said Krol, explaining the variety of small businesses.

Small firms grew their share of the federal account pie in 2012, winning 43% of the government's PR contracts, or about $64.5 million out of $149.5 million spent on the service, according to the Government Contractors Network.

A boost for small businesses came from the Veterans Administration. The agency saw a 112.8% increase in PR spending from 2011 levels, according to the report. In total, the departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Justice, and the VA and the General Services Administration made up at least 78% of PR contracting, up from only three departments or agencies in 2011.

In 2012, nearly 93%, or roughly $8.6 million, of the VA's PR dollars went toward small business contracts.

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