Governor Wolf Launches Mentor-Protégé Program to Help Small Diverse Businesses Better Compete for State Contracts

March 14, 2018

Harrisburg, PA –  As part of his commitment to level the playing field for small and diverse businesses, Governor Tom Wolf today announced the launch of the Commonwealth’s Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP) for Small Diverse Businesses. The program pairs successful prime contractors with small diverse businesses (SDBs) to better develop their technical and administrative capabilities to compete for state government contracting opportunities.

Small diverse businesses are those owned by minorities, women, LGBT, veterans and people with disabilities.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that opportunities to compete for state contracting are diverse, inclusive and fair,” Governor Wolf said. “We have taken an aggressive and innovative approach to achieving that goal, and the Mentor-Protégé Program is another resource that we can now point to in those efforts.”

In September 2015, Governor Wolf signed an executive order solidifying the administration’s commitment to improving the participation of small and small diverse businesses in state government contracting and the commonwealth’s overall economy. The order also created an Advisory Council whose recommendations included commissioning the first ever statewide Commonwealth Disparity Study and establishing a mentor-protégé program.

The MPP will be run through the Department of General Services Bureau of Diversity Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities (BDISBO), pairing prime contractors and/or suppliers with DGS-verified SDBs to provide developmental assistance and help them successfully solicit and perform on commonwealth supplies and services procurement contracts and non-highway capital construction projects. The mentor and protégé enter into an agreement ranging from 6 months to 2 years that defines the relationship and any developmental goals identified by the participants.

“This ‘first-of-its-kind’ program is an excellent example of how we all play a role in improving and increasing the chances for small diverse businesses to successfully compete for, and obtain, state contracts,” Topper said. “As we continue to enhance our efforts to make State government contracting more appealing and accessible to small diverse businesses, the value of a program like this cannot be overstated.”

To participate in the MPP, both mentor and protégé firms must be registered suppliers in good standing with the commonwealth and be willing to adhere to and sign the MPP Agreement. In addition, mentors must have served in a prime contractor role on a contract worth $300,00 or more in the past three years, while protégé firms must be a DGS-verified SDB and attend a DISBO training workshop and a solicitation event.

The pilot program will consist of four mentors and five protégés who will enter into a year-long agreement with a six- month review. Based on the results, adjustments will be made to the program before opening it up to more businesses.

“These mentor businesses are to be commended for walking the talk when it comes to doing their part to make our Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities efforts a success,” Topper said. “And for the protégés, the chance to gain insight and knowledge from state contractors who know the lay of the land will allow them to become more proficient with process and hopefully pay it forward in the future. We’re hoping to create a culture of cooperation and growth where everyone can be successful.”

The Mentor-Protégé pairings for the pilot program are as follows:

  • Highmark Health of Pittsburgh will mentor All-Purpose Cleaning Services, Inc and Bender Consulting Services, Inc. both of Pittsburgh
  • Momentum, Inc. of Camp Hill will mentor Eastern Business Software, Inc. of Broomall
  • Unisys Corporation of Harrisburg will mentor LingaTech, Inc. of Camp Hill
  • PAP Technologies, Inc. of Lancaster will mentor Apparel, Print and Promotionals, Inc. of Harrisburg.

The Bureau of Diversity, Inclusion and Small Business Opportunities, or BDISBO, implements programs to increase contracting opportunities for DGS self-certified small business and third-party verified small diverse businesses; provides training, technical assistance and support for small and small diverse business owners to compete for prime and sub-contracting opportunities; and is also responsible for ensuring contractual commitments are maintained through contract compliance activities.

For information or assistance on BDISBO programs, such as the Mentor-Protégé Program, or becoming a DGS self-certified small business or a verified small diverse business, visit the bureau’s website.

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