More than 250 representatives from 150 small businesses across the nation attended the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s Sixteenth Annual Small Business Forum Oct. 15 at the Jackson Center in Cummings Research Park, Huntsville, Alabama.
The event provides an opportunity for small business representatives to discuss their capabilities with Huntsville Center contracting officials and program managers and learn about upcoming opportunities to work with Huntsville Center.
In fiscal year 2015, Huntsville Center exceeded each Small Business category goal (except HubZone) by obligating more than $500 million to small business.
Rebecca Goodsell, Huntsville Center Small Business Office chief, said Huntsville policy is focused on providing ‘maximum practicable’ prime and subcontracting opportunities to small firms. Goodsell said that has a direct impact not only on the services Huntsville Center provides, but also on the success of women-owned small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses and service disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
“Small businesses are the economic growth engine for America,” Goodsell said. “Small businesses provide jobs, innovation and competition in industry.”
Colleen O’Keefe, Huntsville Center Contracting chief, opened the forum by explaining that the contracting officers and project managers representing Huntsville Center at the forum were there to assist the attendees with learning about upcoming opportunities.
"We want you to be successful, so we want you to ask questions. We have people who can help you get the answers you need," O’Keefe said. "We really want to partner with you so we can help expand your opportunities."
O’Keefe, along with Chip Marin, Huntsville Center’s Installation and Support Programs Management Directorate chief, also talked about current regulation changes affecting small business concerns to work with Huntsville Center.
Austin Boyed, Whitespace Innovations’ representative attending the forum, said by touching on key contracting specifics, O’Keefe provided an enlightening service to the attendees.
“Ms. O’Keefe gave us an excellent overview of how the Corps does its contracting in Huntsville—and Mr. Marin gave us a great overview of the 32 (contracting) vehicles you use as your procurement tools so we know which ones to specifically target,” Boyed said. “It was one of the best (business) presentations I’ve attended.”
According to Paul Stutts, who attended the forum representing the company Computer Training Center of Huntsville, talking with Center representatives during the forum’s break-out session allows him to scout upcoming opportunities. He said those conversations are crucial to the future of his business.
Stutts said attending past small business forums has allowed him to have a better understanding of Huntsville Center’s future direction and knowing program requirements had helped guide his business to the right areas.
Two Small Business Forums ago, Stutts said by talking with project managers he learned Huntsville Center was standing up an information technology division for information assurance and the people working that division had requirements for specific IT security certifications. Stutts said through gaining that information, his company was able to relay his company’s IT security training capabilities to the right people and subsequently secure the opportunity.
“This (the forum) is an opportunity to meet the right people in charge of programs so it saves time and money because we know the right people to talk to and that helps both of us be more efficient,” Stutts said.