Inaugural Orange County Contracting Academy Helps Businesses Navigate Bid Process
For the first time ever, Orange County Government held a free comprehensive Contracting Academy on July 21, to provide information to area businesses and help them increase their chances of winning County contracting bids.
Multiple educational sessions, including Navigating the Procurement Process, E-Procurement Platform Demonstration, M/WBE Program Overview, and Insurance & Bonding highlighted the half day event. Capped at 235 registrants, the event was a sellout. It also included a walkthrough of Orange County’s OpenGov procurement website. Attendees included Orange County Commissioners Maribel Gomez Cordero (District 4) and Mike Scott (District 6), as well as Florida (House) Representative Johanna Lopez.
“We want to reach contractors who may not have done business with the County before and need more guidance to navigate the process,” explained Carrie Mathes, Orange County Procurement Division Manager. “This event was unique because of its comprehensive nature, and among the goals was to boost competition for County contracts and also increase the number of minority and women business enterprises [M/WBE].”
Orange County bids out millions of dollars’ worth of contracts every year for everything from professional services work to multimillion-dollar construction projects. The County expends taxpayer dollars and has a responsibility to do so in a fair and prudent manner.
“One of the core values of this administration is collaboration, so we need to tap into business partners who can bring that collaboration to the table,” explained Mayor Jerry L. Demings. “We also receive grant money, so we need to meet those competitive requirements. Competition leads to setting some good, competitive rates. It’s to our benefit to get more businesses doing business with us.”
The Procurement Division’s portal “OpenGov” realized more than 200 new subscribers in the week following Contracting Academy Additionally, the County launched a post-event survey to attendees, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. “Well put together and informative,” responded one attendee.
“The session on the procurement process was very informative because it provided updates on how Orange County will be communicating future projects, and it provided a better understanding of how bids are reviewed and determined to be responsive,” said another.
Orange County is considering making Contracting Academy an annual or semi-annual event going forward due to the high level of interest. The County manages about 950 term contracts per year, not including one-time construction contracts, and it awards on average about $700 million worth of contracts per year.
“Many businesses aren’t aware of these contract opportunities, and no matter the size of your business, there are opportunities to do business with Orange County,” asserted Mathes. “It’s scalable, so not everyone has to be a large company with large financial backing. We’re looking to contract with businesses of all sizes.”
To see open projects and project dates, and to be notified for any Orange County formal solicitations, subscribe at OpenGov.
For more information about Orange County’s Contracting Academy, visit ocfl.net/ContractingAcademy.