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R2 maintains commitment to women-owned small businesses

April 13, 2020

By Ben Zabava

NEW YORK – When health and safety concerns associated with COVID-19 preempted the GSA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization’s sub and prime contractor matchmaker event for women-owned small businesses, many were considering a cancellation. However, the R2 event, originally scheduled for March 25 at One World Trade Center in New York, was such a vital support program for women-owned small businesses in the local area that the region’s OSDBU decided not to cancel it.

“Small businesses often face significant challenges even in the best of times,” said Janice Bracey, GSA’s Northeast and Caribbean small business specialist, as well as the matchmaker event’s organizer. “Many of those challenges become magnified, now. While the usual in-person event was no longer an option, a safe way for our sub and prime contractors to meet and network about how to fulfill GSA contracts was too important for all parties concerned to just let it go.”

Bracey began working with the Office of GSA IT to find a way to quickly reschedule the matchmaker event virtually.

“We settled on a virtual meeting tool that provided electronic break-out rooms for the one-on-one conversations so critical to sub and prime contractors getting to know each other,” Bracey said. “It was our first time doing a matchmaker event virtually, so help from our IT professionals before and during the event was especially welcome.”

The virtual event ultimately took place on Thursday, April 2, with the same segments as if the event had been held in-person. The agenda included a presentation about GSA’s OSBDU, live remarks from officials of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and extended one-on-one time with the two prime contractors in attendance, Staples, Inc. and Vision Research, Inc.

Feedback from the Region’s first-ever sub and prime virtual matchmaker was positive.

“The participating women-owned small businesses appreciated this event. It is just one of the ways we are showing we have not forgotten them and that we are still here for them,” Bracey said. “GSA’s OSDBU exists to provide small businesses with opportunities to work with the federal government. That doesn’t change with any passing circumstances, not even ones as challenging as this pandemic.”

For more information about GSA’s resources for small businesses, please visit www.gsa.gov/small-business.

Last Reviewed: 2020-04-13