AT&T to guide IT business

The Air Force has awarded AT&T Government Solutions a contract to mentor a small, Native American-owned technology company in Santa Fe, N.M.

Native American Information Technologies (NAIT) Inc. wants to become an Air Force contractor. The seven-person systems integrator specializes in designing and implementing frame relay, private line, virtual private networks and broadband connectivity for voice, data, voice over IP and video networks.

NAIT was a good fit for AT&T, said Steve Hogan, director of AT&T Government Solutions' office in Albuquerque, N.M.

"The process started for me with going out and meeting several small businesses, to understand their goals and objectives," he said. "I'm looking at companies who are interested in the IT world. We're looking at companies that have an interest in the telecommunications world. One of NAIT's interests is learning how to do continuity of operations planning, so we're going to be working with them on that."

Hogan has been mentoring another small firm, Terradigm Inc., which is about to graduate from the 8(a) program. AT&T and Terradigm won the Defense Department's 2003 Nunn-Perry Award, recognizing the quality of the mentor/protegé relationship.

Apart from the immediate payoff of the contract, AT&T gets to build a relationship with a potential new partner, Hogan said. "We can go to them when we have a need they can satisfy well, or they can come to us when they have a large project," he said.

AT&T announced the award last week, but has been working with NAIT since last September, he said. The contract is valued at $170,000 for one year, with two optional one-year extensions.

NAIT President Karen Buller said her goal is to generate technical jobs for Native Americans. "Our partnership with AT&T is a great opportunity," she said.

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