News | Sept. 7, 2016

Conference highlights warfighter support, opportunities for small businesses

By Craig M. Rader DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

Small businesses play a large role in supporting the warfighter, and that impact was on display Aug. 30 – Sep. 1 at a Defense Logistics Agency conference in Columbus, Ohio.

The DLA Land and Maritime Supplier Conference and Expo included remarks from senior military officials and discussion panels comprised of defense industry leaders. Together they covered a range of topics such as Procurement Acquisition Policy, Logistics Operations, Contracting, and Cybersecurity.

The three-day event also offered a series of workshops and presentations aimed at strengthening current partnerships and facilitating new relationships between the agency and small business leaders.

Numerous breakout sessions offered collaboration options for current small business owners, potential entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in working with DLA or the federal government.

Coleen McCormick, associate director of Land and Maritime Small Business Programs hosted a workshop introducing potential vendors to the process of doing business with DLA. The session highlighted the importance of small business to the overall strength of the country’s military.

“Our first responsibility is to support the warfighter,” McCormick said. “We’re also helping to support small business, and that’s very gratifying for us at Land and Maritime.

“The more diversity we have in our business suppliers, the stronger industrial base we’ll have overall – and that’s incredibly important to our production capabilities.”

Another workshop focused on special programs for small businesses that qualify for socio-economic assistance. These programs include opportunities for women or minority-owned companies, or businesses located in designated economic recovery zones.

“It’s important to know about all of the special programs offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration,” Jill Nagy-Reynolds, SBA Business Opportunity Specialist said. “And it’s just as valuable to know where to find out about these opportunities.

“There’s a wealth of information available online for free. I encourage everyone to take the time to familiarize yourselves with the programs available and see what you may qualify for.”

Two of the government contracting options discussed at the breakout session were the 8(a) Business Development and Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Programs.

Nagy-Reynolds says the 8(a) Business Development Program offers a wide range of assistance to business concerns that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

“Our goal is to promote and encourage the competitive viability of these businesses,” she said.

When small businesses are located in urban and rural communities, the HUBZone Program can help gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.

There are certain conditions which must be met to qualify, but for businesses that meet the standards the benefits may include competitive and sole source contracting and a ten percent price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions, as well as subcontracting opportunities.

DLA Land and Maritime Small Business Specialist Donna Brino-Blackwell says the HUBZone program can be very rewarding for entities that qualify, considering the government has a mandate of awarding three percent of all prime contract dollars to HUBZone firms.

“Outside of the economic benefits for businesses that qualify for HUBZone are the social impacts those companies are having in their community,” Brino-Blackwell said. “The program’s intent is to reward businesses that create jobs in areas where they’re needed most.”

She added that candidates interested in the program can contact DLA to explore their options and eligibility.

“Our office is set up to assist small businesses throughout the entire process of working and contracting with the federal government.

“The resources are there, and we’re ready to help with the details along the way.”