With major expansions of Veterans Affairs operations in Louisiana, it would seem the worst time for the state to drop a program that enables small businesses to be a part of purchasing and contracting with the VA. But that appears to be a possibility, with a state match for a federal grant having fallen through the cracks in the 2014 Legislature.
We are encouraged that the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal says it will try to find money to keep the program going, but as of now, Louisiana might be the only state to shut down the Procurement Technical Assistance Center for small businesses. It could close by February.
The program is sponsored by the U.S. Defense Department and provides training for small businesses seeking to work with any federal agencies, but the Louisiana PTAC office has been particularly commended for its work with the VA. With a new VA hospital in New Orleans and expanding clinics in Lafayette and Lake Charles, not to mention the Federal City complex in Algiers, it would seem the worst time for the state to fail to come up with a not-so-grand total of $185,000 for its match with Defense funding.
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber has championed this program, which is headquartered at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette but operates throughout the state. Business leaders across the state are right to put a little heat on the administration to keep this program in place.