Minnetonka-based Ideal System Solutions was awarded a stake in a $20 billion federal contract — the largest award ever given to a Minnesota-based business owned by a Hispanic woman, officials announced Saturday.
Ideal is one of 65 firms that will share a $20 billion, 10-year "government-wide acquisition contract" for information technology needs. Of the recipients, 44 are small businesses. The rest are behemoths such as AT&T, Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard.
Ideal is a 19-year-old small business with 35 employees, five offices and revenue under $100 million. Federal procurement rules recently changed, giving small players such as Ideal the ability to compete for the larger contracts.
Ideal CEO and founder Elise Hernandez said the company could receive "hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue" over 10 years. She also expects to add 20 to 30 workers as a result of the contract.
"I am elated that Ideal has been awarded this contract," she said. "My goal is to be one of the top small business producers on this contract."
Gov. Mark Dayton, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken were scheduled to attend an award ceremony Saturday at Ideal's Minnetonka headquarters. In e-mails to the Star Tribune, the government officials praised Ideal and the rippling effect the federal award will have in Minnesota as Ideal's payroll and vendor lists swell.
"This is a great milestone for Ideal System Solutions and Minnesota's small business community," Franken said. "Elise Hernandez's success is a reminder of how vital it is to encourage entrepreneurs and create opportunities so small businesses can realize their potential."
Ideal System Solutions already provides services for Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Harris Corp. and the U.S. departments of defense and energy. That list will broaden with the new contract, which is administered by the National Institute of Health Informational Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center.
Ideal bid to become part of the program after working with the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA), the Minneapolis-based nonprofit that counsels 1,600 businesses each year and runs two Minority Business Development Centers for the federal government. MEDA clients grossed $1.4 billion in revenue last year.
MEDA CEO and President Gary Cunningham said Ideal's new contract "is one of the most successful contract awards in MEDA's 45-year contract award history. … This is why we exist for this very reason."
Hernandez became a MEDA client six years ago and worked with MEDA to diversify her business, integrate two acquisitions and become certified in two federal programs designed to help small firms tap government contracts.
"Instead of just selling the product, we're [now] the ones that can design it, integrate it, implement it and support it," said Hernandez, who was named MEDA Entrepreneur of the Year last year.