LED recently launched the new Mentor-Protégé Recognition Program.
The Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center (Louisiana PTAC) was honored at their national conference for the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers in April with the Human Impact Award titled “Never Give Up”. This award showed the extraordinary efforts and commitments to their Louisiana clients during a 3 year budget crisis that could have shut them down.
The Louisiana PTAC serves clients in 54 of the 64 Louisiana Parishes. Since its beginning in 1989, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has been the host for the Louisiana PTAC, which has six staff members and one sub-recipient providing procurement technical assistance to Louisiana clients.
On August 1, 2012, the LA PTAC was told that program funds would be eliminated as of September 30, 2012 because of huge state budget deficits. The PTAC sprang into action and contacted everyone they knew to write letters to the Governor and the Secretary of Louisiana Economic Development. In addition, the PTAC solicited support from economic development allies throughout the state, from clients, and from their federal legislators, but all requests to the state government were denied.
By reducing their budget drastically, the PTAC was – with the help of their host University - able to scrape together enough funds to complete the 2012-2013 award year. In 2013-2014, the University allowed them to use the Indirect as part of their match and the University then returned the federal portion of the Indirect cost to the PTAC for operating expenses. Local businesses and other local supporters made donations to the University, which went into a special fund to keep the PTAC open. They still had to take an additional 26% operating cut, but they survived another year. In a phenomenal show of dedication and belief that the program could survive, all of the PTAC staff stayed with the program, working reduced hours for reduced salaries. Two individuals actually worked 30
hours a week for one half of their salaries.
Efforts by the Louisian PTAC and their supporters continued for three years, during which time LA PTAC Program Manager Sherrie Mullins testified before state legislative committees several times. Supporters including the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce, the Louisiana Small Business Advisory Committee, and the Louisiana Industrial Developers Executives Association actively advocated on the PTAC’s behalf, and they ultimately succeeded in convincing the state administration that the PTAC is an invaluable program and should be funded. In 2015-2016, the Governor finally added funds for the LA PTAC to his budget, and it passed. The result…they are back to full staff with the addition of a new counselor for New Orleans, and all the “Loyalists” that stayed the course through the three year nightmare have been returned to full time status with small raises. Even though the state continues its budget crisis, the PTAC is hopeful that it will have the support it needs to be sustained in the coming years.