Working in Microsoft’s U.S. State and Local Government business over the last four years, I have seen how our customers and their citizens have struggled since the economic recession, which has had a devastating impact on so many state and local government programs and services. However, a report issued in late 2012 by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) indicates that things might be improving. According to NASBO, fiscal year (FY) 2013 budgets indicate “fiscal stability for states, a welcome advancement compared to the years immediately following the recession.” This should come as good news as we kick off the New Year and set our sights on new goals and aspirations.
Even with this good news, though, there is still uncertainty driven in part by the federal deficit discussions, reductions in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, and a generally sluggish economy in many parts of the United States. Even as state budgets improve slightly, it is unlikely we will see significant growth in state and local budgets anytime soon. Again, according to NASBO, 24 states enacted FY 2012 budgets with “lower nominal general fund expenditures in FY 2013 than in FY 2008, the last year before the recession.”
So what is an elected official to do? Clearly driving economic improvements in their community is job number one. Not only is this essential to the direct wellbeing of the community, but because every other priority – better-educated students, healthier citizens, and safer streets – depend on a steady revenue stream. One way local leaders can help stimulate local economies is by supporting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) – often regarded as the economic engines of our communities.
SMB owners have the energy and passion to create jobs and drive innovation. That’s one reason why Microsoft is committed to helping SMBs realize their full potential. To that end, we are proud to support initiatives that advance the ability of SMBs to pursue growth opportunities. And when SMBs grow, we all benefit, because they help create thriving communities and generate the revenue needed to support essential government services.
The intersection of government and business is an interesting one. Because governments are some of the biggest employers in our country, there is much they can do to support SMBs in the provision of services and products to government organizations. However, the process of securing a government contract can be cumbersome, confusing, and even scary for some business owners. And if a business owner is fortunate enough to win government business, the compliance requirements for keeping that business can be even trickier to understand.
Microsoft is proud to sponsor Braddock Communications’ Procurement Opportunities Guide, 2013 Edition, which is designed to help business owners and decision-makers navigate the processes for competing for and winning U.S. government contracts at the federal and state level.
I encourage government leaders and procurement officials to distribute the guide broadly, and I encourage small and medium-sized business owners to use it regularly. Working together, we can all do our share to drive economic growth and support SMBs in our communities.