Aqua Community Relations Regroups

Written By Letty Alvarez

What do they do?

Aqua Community Relations has been supporting local governments since 2010, when the City of San Diego chose the group to provide outreach services in service to city council redistricting. Since that time the firm has completed over three dozen multi-year contracts – providing outreach, public engagement, and community relations support throughout San Diego County. Aqua often delivers its services as a subcontractor to construction, engineering, and environmental prime contractors for public agency owners such as cities and water districts.

When facing pandemic obstacles

Owner Paula Roberts recalls Aqua had its most successful year in 2019. However, like many businesses, it was unprepared for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were partially sheltered at first because we have multi-year contracts,” she says. “Unfortunately there were no new bid opportunities for months at a time, and I could see our future income shrinking to extend long past the shutdowns.”

As the pandemic shutdown worsened and their isolation peaked, she found herself wanting an experienced advisor who would help her stay on track with business goals during very discouraging times. Paula turned to the San Diego, Orange, Imperial PTAC to help her navigate programs and diversify her government client base.

“I’ve been a PTAC client since the earliest days of my firm,” she says. “And I attend several PTAC events each year.” Paula recalls attending past PTAC training events about small business certifications, capabilities statements, and how to work for a variety of agencies – as well as PTAC’s ‘Meet the Buyer’ workshops which have all had a positive impact on her firm, she shares.

A resource in the owner’s back pocket

Our PTAC Advisor Karen Burgess helped Aqua determine strategies and ways to move forward during the COVID shutdowns. The firm applied for and obtained new certifications, adding WBE (Women Business Enterprise), DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise), and micro small business certificates to its SCOOP (Small Contractor Outreach and Opportunities Program) and ELBE (Emergent Local Business Enterprise) credentials. Karen also assisted Paula with completing Aqua’s SAM (System for Award Management) registration and crafting a more robust capabilities statement, which enhances their marketing stature and chances for future contracts.

Paula notes how she found Karen to be “knowledgeable, supportive, and happy to share her contacts and pointers to make the processes go more smoothly.”

Make PTAC part of your toolkit

With Karen’s advice and help, Aqua successfully pursued and obtained new government contracts. In June, the firm started work on a new three-year, $100,000, as-needed contract that supports capital improvements for the San Diego County Water Authority. Aqua also continues to support projects owned by the City of San Diego and is approved for as-needed contracts with the City of Carlsbad and the Metropolitan Water District. “I frequently recommend PTAC to other small business owners who want to work with the government,” Paula shares. “After working with Karen, I believe requesting an advisor is a great first step.”

Learn more about this inspiring, woman-owned small business on their website here.

We can help you too. Find out more about your San Diego, Orange, Imperial PTAC here. And sign up for services at no cost to you here.