Office of Economic Impact and Diversity

Conversations and Connections – The Expertise of our Small Business Program Managers

August 20, 2012

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Freda Hopper serves as a Small Business Program Manager at Oak Ridge Operations Office, helping small businesses learn how to work with the Department and access contract opportunities. Here, she joins Dot Harris (at podium) at a Small Business Summit in Oak Ridge this July.

Freda Hopper serves as a Small Business Program Manager at Oak Ridge Operations Office, helping small businesses learn how to work with the Department and access contract opportunities. Here, she joins Dot Harris (at podium) at a Small Business Summit in Oak Ridge this July.

When Melanie Goff, president of a small, minority, women-owned business, needed to find new business prospects in the federal government, she turned to Freda Hopper. Hopper has been working with small businesses looking to get their foot in the door to federal contracting as a small business program manager since 1998, serving small businesses from her position at Oak Ridge Operations Office in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

A self-described “people person,” Hopper genuinely enjoys acting as the link for small businesses and the federal government, helping small business owners like Goff find their niche in the government contracting world. “It’s a win-win situation to connect someone to someone else,” Hopper says. “These conversations can always be stepping stones to the next opportunity.”

Hopper is one of over a hundred Small Business Program Managers across the Energy Department who serve as expert resources to business owners, local business organizations, procurement officials, and the senior leadership. They know what their organizations are looking to buy, when contracts are expiring, who the incumbent contract holder is, and how you can market your small business to compete for opening opportunities.

Goff’s company, Rapicom, is a distributor of wire, cable, fiber optics, custom cable assemblies, data and telecommunication products. While her company has been working with the federal government since 1993, she needed advice on where to look for opening contracts at the Energy Department. Goff emailed Hopper in early August to introduce her company, and Hopper quickly returned the call and learned more about their services. With a click of a button, Hopper shared Goff’s company information with all Small Business Program Managers across the agency, knowing that while Oak Ridge didn’t have a fit at the time, there may be opportunities at other locations.

Within days, Goff had leads on opportunities to provide quotes for Jefferson Lab and Brookhaven National Laboratory, and a few weeks later Goff had landed a contract at Jefferson Lab.

“Freda, I just wanted to thank you again,” read an email from Goff in Hopper’s inbox a few days after their initial conversation. “Your help is really appreciated at this economically challenging time. And again, thank you for returning my phone calls.”

Hopper’s assistance, matched with Goff’s research, perseverance, and company qualifications, made Goff’s outreach a success. Across the Department, Small Business Program Managers are standing by to offer the same quality assistance and support as small businesses learn the ropes of the contracting process and identify opportunities. 

Using our Small Business Opportunities Tool, small businesses can locate their closest Energy labs and sites, research past procurement activity, and get in touch with one of our expert small business managers today.

About Our Office

The Office of Small and Disadvantaged Utilization is committed to increasing contracting opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses, establishing goals, putting together smart policy, and developing programs to increase the support going to small businesses through government contracts.  For more information about our office, click here.