The Umbrella Initiative mission is “to double the number of small businesses contracting with the government by the year 2020.”
The Umbrella Initiative is the outgrowth of the FPA Think Tank at The University of North Florida (UNF), a collaborative effort between FPA and The Florida Center for Public and International Policy at UNF. The Umbrella Initiative Portal will consist of three separate components which, when combined, will guarantee small and disadvantaged business owners interested in government contracting access – in one place – of all critical procurement elements including federal, state and local government contracting: communication, registration, certification, training, bid searching, bid responses, contract funding (access to capital), networking and team building, and contracting results. Most importantly, the proposed umbrella portal will be designed to allow for the cross promotion of their components and for the measurement of the results of the individual efforts including usage.
The procurement services to be offered through the Umbrella Initiative will be personalized to each local area serviced, augmented by existing resources (such as local SBDC centers) and will be managed by the counseling staff of the service providers which will be trained on its usage.
The Umbrella Initiative Portal would permit local counselors, at service provider offices, to offer – in one place – critical on-line procurement support – including on-demand training not previously available to existing small businesses interested in becoming involved or in expanding their government procurement activity and success. Currently, service providers are restricted to only offering on-location trainings, which reach a small number of recipients, and recommending clients to over a dozen suppliers for vital information and/or support.
The elements of the Umbrella Portal would be flexible and reproducible, meaning that they can be adapted to the specific characteristics of a state or region. The Think Tank basic premise is that the presence of a Unified Procurement Solution in a state/region is critical to increasing participation and to achieving of the mission of the Umbrella Initiative.
Government Procurement within a State as diverse and complex as Florida is a difficult problem to solve. In an ideal world, all procurement opportunities in the State across all Agencies, Cities, and Counties would be managed in a centralized manner with consistent access and systems to reduce costs and improve participation by State businesses – especially small and disadvantaged businesses.
Our goal is to help businesses better manage their own government contracting efforts, in short – we will help contractors, especially small and disadvantaged businesses, become vital parts of the State economy.