Flood seminar helps local contractors land jobs

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By Michael Wunder, News Editor

Earlier this year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency designated the Nebraska Business Development Center (NBDC) as the Nebraska contact for contractors seeking to provide services for flood recovery.

Preparing for the eventual rebuilding after the recent Missouri River flooding, the NBDC, located at UNO, offered local businesses an opportunity to be educated on the ins and outs of supplying their work and goods to the government.

“We do not want the situation that occurred in Louisiana and Mississippi during their hurricane disaster, where a majority of businesses that provided the government their goods/services were not local businesses,” said Andy Alexander from the NBDC.  “We want our governments to use qualified local Iowa and Nebraska businesses.”

The NBDC, along with the Iowa Center for Industrial Research And Service, organized the July 27 seminar, “The Road to Recovery,” to educate 50 local businesses with a desire to provide services to the government.

Often, governments don’t know where to look when searching for qualified local businesses to supply their needs, Alexander said. Conversely, businesses often aren’t informed about or know how to go about selling their services to the governments seeking them.

The seminar was organized to amend such issues.

Attendees were educated about special requirements and restrictions placed on federal, state and local agencies contracting during disaster situations; Local services sought by agencies and businesses for flood recovery; 
How to prepare a successful bid on flood restoration projects such as clean up, construction, waste disposal and infrastructure repair; and 
Free contracting and subcontracting support services provided by Nebraska and Iowa procurement assistance programs.

During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the communities and governments affected by the disaster were searching for businesses to supply goods and services to contribute to the recovery effort.

Local businesses in Louisiana were assured by FEMA that their services would be favored over those from out-of-state, according to an April 12, 2006 article by James Varney in the Times-Picayune. However, when bids for contracts to service FEMA trailers were doled out, more than half the work went to out-of-state companies.

The NBDC and Iowa CIRAS are hoping to avoid similar problems. After this seminar, Alexander said, businesses hoping to sell their services to governments will be “able to do that.”

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