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USDA to host its Rural Connections event in Alexandria

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization

The USDA is hosting a training seminar Tuesday in Alexandria that aims to help small businesses land contracts with the federal government.

The Rural Small Business Connections training event is being hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, according to director Carmen Jones.

The day-long networking and educational seminar will give information on procurement opportunities within the USDA and other federal agencies. This is the office’s fourth training event put on around the country, Jones said. She hopes it will enable more small Louisiana businesses to build up its customer base inside the Beltway.

“You all do $30 million worth of business with USDA within the state. We’d love to see that number expand as it aligns with our mission and programs,” Jones said.

The USDA procures $5 billion each year, according to Jones. Half of that is in food commodities for its school lunch programs. Jones says getting a foot in the door at USDA or any government agency requires careful research to ensure the business aligns with the actual needs of the government agency.

“I always advise companies that come to my office to really focus your marketing effort narrowly. Identify the agencies that best align with what you have to offer that they may need, and then I suggest that they go deep,” Jones said.

The free seminar is set for tomorrow from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Best Western of Alexandria Inn and Suites and Conference Center. Pre-registration is preferred. More information is at www.usda.gov/osdbu or by calling 202-720-7117.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.