Thursday, June 18, 2009
David T. Boddie of Federal Allies Institute, the sponsor of the event, said 350 to 400 attendees signed up for the forum, with participants coming from 16 different states.
The expo had a convention-like atmosphere as 37 companies who already do work for the government, as well as government agencies, set up tables in Spates and interacted with companies hoping to find government work.
Technology-oriented companies specializing in construction, communications, contaminated waste disposal and security were readily visible at the expo, but so were some unexpected entities. Landsdowne, a resort eight miles west of Dulles Airport in Virginia was there marketing its facility as a place for organizational retreats and troop vacation packages, and a salsa company that does business at Fort Belvoir and Quantico was looking to further expand distribution of its product.
Even the non-profit USO Metro was there, looking for volunteers and soliciting sponsorship for its programs which benefit uniformed personnel.
‘‘It’s kind of like speed dating for government contractors,” said Boddie. ‘‘It’s a matter of streamlining and outsourcing the federal government to the widest extent possible.”
In addition to the casual networking in the ballroom, participants could also sign up for one-on-one sessions with local government contracting offices, such as the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies, seeking specifics in terms of bidding, contract requirements, eligibility, certifications and other issues.
There were also presentations on ‘‘Small Business Strategic Planning,” ‘‘Construction and BRAC,” and ‘‘Prime and Subcontractor Relationships” held throughout the day in rooms adjacent the ballroom.
‘‘If you want to see what’s out there, click on contracting opportunities,” Stacy Copeland of the Fort Myer Contracting Office told audience members in a breakaway session, supplementing a power point presentation on opportunities in the Army. ‘‘If you know that something’s on Fort Myer, click on Fort Myer and it’ll open up.”
Wesley Stith of Clark Construction, co-led the session on Contracting and BRAC. While the Base Realignment and Closure act has meant the loss of jobs for some, he said it can be an opportunity for others. Stith said companies have to be agile to quickly adapt to changing economic circumstances.
‘‘We’re in a new world,” he said. ‘‘Who would have believed that GM would be where it is today? People can’t keep doing the same old thing that worked before.”
Kenneth Mitchell, director of contracting for the Fort Myer Military Community, said the conference included participation by the Internal Revenue Service, the Air Force and other organizations, which provided budding entrepreneurs with a wide breadth of information. He said it also afforded an opportunity for Fort Myer contracting officials to meet face-to-face with their counterparts in other agencies.
‘‘It was a whopping success,” Mitchell said. ‘‘We had twice as many people as last year.” He said Fort Myer served as the unofficial host of the event.
Looking around at the buzz of activity, Boddie said, ‘‘We’re bringing the economy back right here at Fort Myer.”