Local businesses get boost

VIENNA – The Western Reserve Port Authority approved a partnership with the Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp. to help local businesses sell their goods and services to the government.

WRPA will pay a little more than $24,000 as half of the local match necessary to sustain MVEDC’s Procurement Technical Assistance Program.

The partnership, which will be reviewed annually by the authority, was approved at the WRPA board meeting Wednesday morning after some discussion by board members.

“It’s a center for assisting companies of getting government contracts,” WRPA Executive Director Rose Ann DeLeon said.

DeLeon explained that the work PTAP supports pairs well with the economic development arm of the port authority that was approved by Congressman Timothy J. Ryan in 2010. PTAP counsels companies in working with all levels of the government and educates clients on government terminology.

“It’s definitely a worthwhile program,” board member Andres Visnapuu said. “You can’t navigate through that on your own.”

Since its inception in 1987, the procurement center has awarded nearly $198,000,000 to 500 companies and created 1,320 jobs. Norma Webb, director of PTAP, gave a few examples of companies they have worked with.

“We worked with Milsek Furniture Polish Co., they’re in Columbiana County; ST Sales Co., they recently got a contract with the State of Georgia to sell pressure washers. They’re located on Salt Springs Road,” she said.

The program previously needed a 25 percent match to receive government funds and was able to do this on their own. However, because the local unemployment rate has lowered, Webb said the amount that MVEDC has to match increased from 25 percent to 50 percent.

“We haven’t worked too much with (WRPA) in the past year since I’ve been on, but we will be in the future,” she said.

PTAP also provides database searches of government work up for bid and has hosted conferences in which large companies explain their purchasing process to smaller local companies.

In 2012, PTAP lost funding due to a change in audit procedures and the retirement of the program’s director. They got back on track in 2013, helping six companies with 11 contracts and providing them with more that $2 million in awards.