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Cracking the Code: Small Businesses Working with the State - MA

CI_Works was privileged to host a visit on June 16 from State Representative James Kelcourse and Mass Office of Business Development Northeast Director Maria DiStefano. The meeting was held to create connections for CI_Works tenant businesses with state agency personnel who could utilize these products and services in their day to day environments. It seems like connecting these local businesses to the state is a no-brainer, but nobody suggested that state agencies are easily understood. All of these agencies, their names, acronyms, and purposes can be confusing, we like to call it the alphabet soup. Once the name and purpose is mastered, there remains the challenge of finding the individual within the maze possessing purchasing authority and a budget. No small task!

DiStefano achieved significant progress when she explained to attending businesses that in order to actually do business with the state of Massachusetts, companies need to submit a completed application – through OSD (again the alphabet soup – Operational Services Division). This process seems to make sense, yet none of the participating businesses in the room were aware of the requirement. Now, tack on that these are small one and two person businesses, that do not have investigative resources available on their teams. Yet it shouldn’t be this hard to find out, as companies organized in Massachusetts, the requirements to do business with your own state.

We now have a follow up learning session planned on July 28 – thanks to Rep. James Kelcourse and Maria DiStefano from the Mass Office of Business Development. For our tenant companies that have been seed-funded by the Massachusetts Clean EnergyCenter, these revenue opportunities would represent a second stage of investment by the state in actual product deployments within Massachusetts. It is also worth noting that the Clean Energy Center has completed due diligence on the viability of these products and their commercial readiness for deployment. So, validation work has already been completed which SHOULD be useful in selling these products to other state agencies.

But, who actually knew that in order to actually sell products to any one (or more than one) state agency, a company would need to go through an application / approval process through another state agency – Operational Services Division – in order to get on the appropriate list for procurement. Call me an efficiency freak – but does this sound like redundancy to you? It does to me, but that aside, knowing there is a list that companies need to be on represents progress, and was a complete mystery to all of the businesses located here in Amesbury – still a part of Massachusetts.

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