February 2-Q Poll – Rhode Island Manufacturers On Government Contracting

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by | Mar 4, 2021

Polaris MEP Rhode Island Manufacturing benchmark poll

President Biden has signed several Executive Orders to strengthen Buy American provisions and American Manufacturing. This included elements which would require active use of the MEP National Network by federal agencies.

As the Rhode Island center for the MEP National Network, Polaris MEP was inspired to use its February “2-Q Poll” to learn more about RI manufacturing companies and contracts with local, state or federal agencies.

The poll data has influenced the direction of next week’s webinar on Government Contracting. Center Director Kathie Mahoney and RI PTAC Manager Melody Weeks will be discussing how and why of government contracts for small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses.


Poll Responses Hint at Misconceptions of Government Contracting

The February 2-Q Poll results moved the topic of marketing higher in the agenda of the March 10 webinar.

53% of all respondents said they’d believed support with Market Research/Marketing/Sales would help them pursue government contracts. This included 88% of respondents who already have such contracts.

However, not one of the aspiring government contractors responding chose Market Research/Marketing/Sales as a service which would help them pursue new sales.

Weeks suggests there is a myth that a company can get “on a list” and then just sit back and watch the contracts roll in. “I’d love to know where that list is!” she said. 

The reality is that manufacturers need to do their research to they can specifically target government buyers who need their unique product. They’ll also need to market themselves.

Weeks and Mahoney will debunk the myth of “the list” and provide other actionable insights on Wednesday, February 10th at 11am. RSVP for the webinar today.


Key Insights from February 2-Q Poll

Companies were asked:

  1. Does your manufacturing company currently contract with Government agencies?
  2. What services / support do you feel would help you pursue government contracts? 

Answers revealed:

  • Most RI manufacturing companies who responded are already contracting with government agencies — or they have no interest in doing so.

Chart - RI Manufacturing companies responding, government contracts

While we feel that the percent of “already contracting” responses is higher than the percentage of ALL Rhode Island manufacturers, we were struck by the high percent of “no interest.”

Some may not realize the potential revenue from this sales channel. The federal government has a goal of awarding at least 23% of contracts to small businesses. In 2019, that totalled $132.9 billion in prime contracts.

Some manufacturers may feel like they’re too small to contract with the government. Melody Weeks of RI PTAC notes that are different facets of being a government contractor — while some companies are primes who directly deal with an agency, others are subcontractors within a supply chain.


  • What do responding manufacturers feel would help them land more government projects? The top three services/support desired by all respondents were Market Research/Marketing/Sales, Costs & Pricing, and Capacity Increase.

“People can get in over their head really quickly,” says Weeks. She advocates working with PTAC and manufacturing experts such as Polaris MEP to first get a realistic understanding of your capacity. Then, learn how lean manufacturing, facility redesign or other tactics can expand your production to meet demand.


  • Supportive services desired where aligned with where a manufacturer is in their journey to government contracting.

Those who wish to contract with a state or federal agency were more likely than those who already have contracts to say they’d want or need help with Cybersecurity. This is smart, as Weeks notes that the supply chain is shifting and companies who invest in technology and cyber security are going to have an advantage.

Those who want to pursue government contracts also were most likely to say Supply Chain resources would be helpful. Again, this is smart. Kathie Mahoney of Polaris MEP says the success of a manufacturing company “comes down to how resilient your supply chain management is.” A strong supply chain can help a RI manufacturing company get lower costs and be more agile when bidding for government jobs.


RI Manufacturing Leaders, Take the March Poll!

This week marked one year since the first COVID-19 cases were identified in Rhode Island.

Our March “2-Q Poll” looks at where manufacturers continue to feel the impact of the pandemic. What business area is of greatest concern now?

Please click below to answer the two short questions. We’ll compare aggregated responses to data gathered from surveys conducted last April and in July — a snapshot of an unprecedented year in Rhode Island manufacturing.

The Polaris MEP 2-Q Poll: Two little questions. One BIG way to help Rhode Island’s manufacturing sector #BuildBackBetter in 2021.

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