For the third time since it opened in 2009, the Colorado Procurement Technical Assistance Center is searching for an executive director.

The nonprofit, quasi-governmental center — responsible for training companies across the state to compete for local, state and federal contracts — has launched a national search for a new leader after Gary Henry left to take a position with Ball Aerospace.

Headquartered in the Springs, the PTAC in 2015 helped small businesses develop 6,260 jobs, held 3,727 counseling sessions, conducted 215 outreach events and had 2,833 active clients, says Dennis Casey, interim director. The organization helped clients receive $8.8 billion in government contracts last year.

That level of statewide assistance won’t stop as the group searches for a new executive director.

“We believe very much that what we’re doing is important,” he said. “And we know we’re making a difference. That’s why I love this job; I love helping people sustain their businesses.”

Casey has been with the PTAC since its start seven years ago. He became the deputy director in 2014 after watching the program grow throughout the years.

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“We don’t just do the basics here,” he said. “As we expand our reach, we’re doing more and more high-level work. We can help train contractors to apply for government work — and not just the first time they apply. We can help with every proposal. It relieves the burden of having to know how different governments operate.”

And as the program matures, it’s working with other economic development groups to attract more business to the state and region.

Big events

The PTAC is partnering with the Jefferson County Economic Development Corp., Colorado Space Coalition, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and the state’s Small Business Development Center network for a first-time event with NASA.

Casey said the goal is to connect small businesses with the space agency to increase jobs and bring money to the state. NASA will bring officials to talk about the space agency’s goals and specific needs from small businesses in Colorado. The event will also feature a number of multi-national aerospace and defense corporations.

“We’re hoping it’s such a success that NASA would consider coming back to Colorado every year,” Casey said.

Scheduled for 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 28 at the Sheraton Denver West, NASA officials from Armstrong Flight Research Center, Glenn Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Kennedy Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center will be networking with state and local companies. Prime contractors signed up include Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Sierra Nevada Corp., CH2MHill, Jacobs Engineering, Teledyne, Southern Research and Millennium Space Systems.

“Colorado is second in the nation for its aerospace workers,” Casey says. “We can grow that, I think. And our goal is to bring small businesses into the mix. These companies are looking for a wide range of services and skills.”

While it’s headquartered in Colorado Springs, the PTAC is the only one in Colorado, so it also has offices in Westminster, Golden, Aurora, Fort Collins and Longmont.

The typical PTAC client: small businesses, which represent 53 percent of clients. Woman-owned small businesses, a federal designation, make up 31 percent, while businesses owned by service-disabled veterans make up 11 percent.

Long-term goals

Casey would like to focus on several long-term projects to bring more federal contracts to El Paso County — currently third on the list for contracts. Jefferson County rates No. 1 and Denver County second.

“I’d like to see a manufacturing consortium here,” he said. “You know, those weapons parts have to be made somewhere, and it’s getting harder to find companies who make the actual parts. We could easily have manufacturers here do it, and bring more federal dollars here.”

Aerospace and Defense Small Industry Day

Who: Presented by the JeffCo Economic Development Corp., the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Colorado PTAC

When:  8 a.m., June 28

Where: Sheraton Denver West Hotel, 360 Union Blvd., Lakewood

Who: NASA representatives from its procurement offices, prime contractors

Cost: $84.37