Small-town businesses can sell to the U.S. military

Belinda Sheridan


Program Manager, Procurement Technical Assistance Center
Phone: 276-964-7533



Is this a statewide or national organization?
The Procurement Technical Assistance Center, or PTAC, is a national program that is under the purview the defense logistics agency. There are 99 centers across the United States, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico. This particular PTAC covers 21 counties in southwestern Virginia. (Sheridan is based at Southwest Virginia Community College.)

What does that stand for again?
Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Now our function is to work with companies that want to subsidize their bottom line. This is done by selling their products or services to the federal, state, local governments or to the Department of Defense. We make it really easy for them to do that because we will come to them or meet with them at one of the eight community colleges from which we work. We sit down and hold their hand through the entire process. We first of all tell them where their market may lie; then we help them get registered – and go through all the red tape. Once a particular opportunity is found for them, we can help them decide to make the bid or no-bid decision on that. We work with them through the bidding and proposal phase, through contract administration, should they win it. And then through until they get final payment. So we make it very easy for a company to be more successful.

How does this help the economy in a small town?
Well, in a small town just think: The Defense Logistics Agency buys about $11 billion for the worldwide connectivity of our military. So what if you got one job to sell ammunition for our war fighters. That could mean several thousand dollars added to that bottom line. So the buying power of several thousand dollars in a small community is just astronomical. You can buy more groceries, you can hire more people, and you might buy a larger house. It could be anything that the company needs. It’s just like finding another vendor to sell your supplies to.

What would be the role of mayor or town manager – would it be, for instance, for the mayor to identify the entrepreneurs in that area and connect them with you?
Well, either that or they already know the businesses that are in their community so they might say, “Look, we know about PTAC,” and just pick up the phone and call them. They’ll come to you, and they’ll help you through this.

It sounds like the main thing you want from mayors and town managers is awareness.
Absolutely, we are one of the best kept secrets. We’ve been around since 1985. We don’t advertise on billboards or take out an ad in the newspaper; it’s mainly through word of mouth. We’re following the law of the land to do that. So it’s word of mouth: We have one person who is successful, so they tell their other company friends through the Chamber of Commerce or their employees, and they say, “Hey, we just got a big government contract. Maybe your boss would want to do the same.” So it is word of mouth. and it is very successful.

Are there small towns in southwest and even other parts of Virginia that you’ve helped?
Yes! This particular center, PTAC, has been here since 1985. You don’t stay where you’re not successful. It has been very successful, very helpful for many of the companies in southwest Virginia; we would just like to help more.

Any small town in Virginia is going to find one that is in their region?
Absolutely, we travel. Believe me, we have a travel budget. We drive the car, we’ll meet them at one of the community colleges. We’ll have an event where we’ll sit down and talk with people. We will do whatever it takes to help that company be successful.