Thursday, July 25, 2024

Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, NWLA APEX Accelerator enable innovation for local businesses

by BIZ Magazine

WOODWORTH, LA, UNITED STATES, June 29, 2023 / / — For the past 36 years, the Northwest Louisiana (NWLA) APEX Accelerator has been serving as an invaluable resource for existing and new businesses to strengthen the defense industrial base by accelerating innovation, fostering ingenuity, and establishing resilient and diverse supply chains. Through an initial partnership with the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, Ingalls Information Security tapped into NWLA APEX Accelerator’s expert guidance and free procurement assistance, which helped enable the development and official launch of Cybersecurity Assurance Readiness (CSAR) Prepare, a software automation tool that streamlines and simplifies the path to Authorization to Operate (ATO) approval..

“As a small business trying to market our technology to the federal government, my first stop on the journey began with APEX (formerly Procurement Technical Agency Center),” said Brandi Pickett, Director of Government Programs at Ingalls. “Nestled within the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, the local APEX provided free procurement assistance and talked me through registering for dynamic small business search that matches Ingalls’ capabilities with government organizations looking for service providers. The “Doing Business with Barksdale AFB” has been invaluable as it gives us a chance to network and learn who to contact for business opportunities.”

Launched in May, CSAR Prepare is the first prototype and Minimum Viable Product (MVP) available for use and it supports the Prepare and Categorize System steps of the Risk Management Framework (RMF). Lowering the barrier to Assessment & Authorization (A&A) entry and acting as a precursor to eMASS, CSAR Prepare accelerates the RMF Prepare Step, automating AF mandatory ATO forms, and enabling users to keep pace with RMF requirements. Ingalls took the most frustrating and difficult part of the RMF process and automated it. In CSAR, AF mandatory forms such as the ITCSC, PIA, and PCIL are mapped so that you answer once, and it maps to many.

NWLA APEX Accelerator helps drive innovation by assisting local businesses in selling products and services to all branches in the government, which further reinforces the local economy and strengthens the job market. The resources and assistance provided by NWLA APEX Accelerator include:

  • How to sell to school board, parish, city, state, and federal agencies
  • Identification of markets for goods and services
  • Certifications for small, minority, woman, veteran, and service-disabled women
  • Required registrations
  • Daily notification of opportunities
  • Marketing assistance
  • Invoicing and payment systems
  • Bid documents review and proposal preparation
  • Research and development grants
  • Cybersecurity and technology transfer

Today, APEX Accelerators are placing an emphasis on helping underserved businesses that are eligible for certain government solicitations designed for the promotion of diversity, inclusion, and equity, and guiding them throughout the entire process. APEX Accelerators will continue increasing the number of Defense Industrial Base (DIB)-ready and Government Industrial Base (GIB, including local and state governments)-ready businesses.

“In my 17 years working as a Contract Specialist for APEX, I’ve seen hundreds of businesses come and go through my office,” said Jennifer Whittington, Senior Contract Specialist at APEX Accelerators. “In 2022, our clients were awarded $72M in federal contracts alone. Barksdale AFB spent $65.8M, and 90% of that went to small businesses! That’s just one example of what our local agencies are buying. So the money is out there. It is always exciting to watch a company such as Ingalls put in the effort and succeed. It’s been a pleasure working with Brandi Pickett and watching the company grow to this level. I can’t wait to see where the future takes them.”

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