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Posted: May 26, 2009

Where are those big stimulus bucks?

Finding the funds and applying for them is complex, but worth the effort

Theresa M. Szczurek

Everyone is talking about it. Supposedly, there is $787 billion in funds available to stimulate the economy by creating jobs and investing in infrastructure projects and growth industries. The big question is: How does your business tap into them now before those funds are gone?

Here are few tips shared at the “Where’s The Money? Navigating Opportunities from the Stimulus Package and Other Contracts” conference on May 15. Preston Gibson, president of the Jefferson Economic Council shared, “We are running this event to help existing companies and new businesses in this economy. Over 450 businesses from Colorado and beyond are at this session.” Check out Jeffco.org for more insights from the dozen of speakers and to see their presentations. 

Of the total amount of stimulus funds of $787 billion, Recovery.gov reports that as of May 8 $102.9 billion is available for distribution and $36.8 billion has been paid out. Some of the funds are allocated to the states. Click here to learn more about the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (known as ARRA) in all 50 states. You can find a link to a website describing how your state is spending funds allocated by the Recovery Act.

A summary report of what ARRA means to Colorado is available here. The state of Colorado expects to receive more than $7 billion in the next three years and to distribute those to: education, health care, human services, employment and workforce training, business and economic development, transportation, energy efficiency and conservation, environment and natural resources, housing, public safety and telecommunications.

There are 28 federal agencies listed on Recovery.gov with recovery plans. Jim Spaeth, assistant manager for commercialization and project management with the U.S. Department of Energy, gave these specific instructions to apply for a grant or a loan guarantee from DOE:

Track funding opportunity announcements through:
• All types and loan guarantees
• Grants
• Contracts

For first-time applicants, register before submitting application:
• Register early to be ready when opportunities are announced. The process can take a minimum of 30 days. Realize you need DUNS, ccr, orca, and other numbers to register.
• Read registration instructions carefully and comply completely

Apply for grants administered by states or local governments:
• Apply directly to state energy office or local government entity
• Go here and find the link to your state energy office

For help, call DOE’s Recovery Act Clearinghouse at 1-888-DOE-RCVY (1-888-363-7289).

The General Services Administration helps all federal agencies better serve the public by offering, at best, value, superior workplaces, expert solutions, acquisition services and management service. Pennie Estrada, director of Small Business Utilization Center, of the Rocky Mountain GSA regional office in Denver (Pennie.estrada@gsa.gov) shared some things to do:
• Register for the federal acquisition service and click on vendors
• Find your appropriate schedule and do a keyword search by service or product.
• The standard application process can take 120 days. An accelerated process call MAS Express can take 30 days. You will need ccr, orca, sba and naics numbers and certifications and a past performance review by Openratings.com.
• Take the required online “Pathways to Success” education seminar to learn how to apply for MAS Express at the Vendor Support Center.

There are dozens of other federal agencies with recovery plans and funds, as well as state and local government entities distributing funds.  The most important sources of information mentioned are:
• Fedbizopps.gov
• Recovery.gov
• Gsa.gov

Overall, finding the funds and applying for them is complex. It takes patience and persistence. You may want to find some expert advice on how to navigate these waters. Is it worth it? YES! 

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Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Radish Systems, is a serial technology entrepreneur. The story of her last start-up, which sold for more than $40 million in less than six years, is included, along with her strategies for success, in the Amazon-bestseller Pursuit of Passionate Purpose: Success Strategies for a Rewarding Personal and Business Life. www.RadishSystems.com, www.radishsprouts.typepad.com and @TheresaSzczurek on twitter.

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