While no one knows whether or not President Barack Obama's $787 billion stimulus package is going to work, we do know it is going to put some serious cash into the market.
So how do you get your fair share? Or, better yet, your unfair share?
First off, you have to get connected. Much of this spend is going to go to those who play politics and make the right connections. Given that plenty of your money is headed to state governments for so-called shovel-ready projects, you are going to have to work this on the local level--that should play to your strengths. Realize that your competitors will be calling their local state representatives, congressmen and state senator's office to get help--you need to make those calls as well.
Some of this stimulus spend is going to get passed through state government and into local cities and town coffers. Again, you are going to have to work the system in order to get a leg up. If you are a minority-owned company--and that includes women--then you may have an advantage in that a certain percentage of government contracts are required to be given to those businesses that qualify for them.
Beyond shovel-ready infrastructure projects, there is another $44.5 billion earmarked specifically for modernizing schools. There will be lots of opportunity here. Trouble is, this isn't going to come quickly. It's going to require grant writing on the part of states and local school districts to first get the money. My advice to you is to be proactive here and help the school districts write killer grant proposals that you were instrumental in outlining. This gives you an advantage, albeit no guarantee you will win the business if the school district wins the grant.
Health care is another category with a hefty $19 billion earmark in the package, and this time it is directly related to digitizing medical records. This is a healthy category to get into regardless. More and more physicians are stepping up technology spending for efficiency. If you don't already have a medical records management practice, now may be a good time to think about it.
Don't forget about energy efficiency either, where the government is pushing to spend a cool $20 billion. This is an infrastructure play, and plenty of dollars will need to be spent in order to refit data centers and more with more energy-efficient technology.
The challenge over the next few months is going to be figuring out when the dollars will arrive and where they will end up as they begin to trickle out of the spending package.
The best way to stay ahead of this is going to be through your local congressional office. It's in your congressman's best interest to see these dollars get spent in his or her district, and he or she is going to have the best information to help you understand how to get at it.
Find a friend in the office, grease the skids and, who knows, you may find it a tad easier to nail one or two projects funded as a result of all this. These are unique times, and they are going to require you to operate differently than in the past.
If you don't do it, someone else will. Truer words were never spoken than when Tip O'Neill said, "All politics are local."