NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 16, 2017) – Small businesses were treated to a unique event today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District dubbed “BOOH,” which is not a scary reference to Halloween but is a cute acronym for its first annual Business Opportunities Open House.
About 120 business leaders showed up to Tennessee State University’s Avon Williams Campus to learn about the Nashville District’s missions and projects, meet Corps leaders, and to learn about what the Corps is planning in the future.
Tom Denes, senior vice president of ARCADIS, an engineering company in Hanover, Md., said he loved being able to talk to Nashville District officials and to get information about Corps programs to position the company to compete for contracts.
“It’s helpful for us to know the folks that most align with what we do,” Denes said.
The Corps set up tables around the room where businesses could meet experts in hydropower, recreation, operations, water management, construction, engineering, project management, planning, contracting, legal, safety, security, facility management, information technology, and geographic information systems.
Participants also had the opportunity to speak with Brig. Gen. Mark Toy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division commander; Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, Nashville District commander; and Maj. Christopher Burkhart, Nashville District deputy commander.
The purpose of the event is to provide direct access to leadership and to Corps officials most knowledgeable about the district’s operations, missions, and future requirements, which is a time saver and incredible opportunity for those who worked the room to network and establish relationships.
Cynthia Bullard, sales representative at Scientific Sales, Inc., in Oak Ridge, Tenn., said she wanted to meet the district’s safety office representative, but quickly learned she would benefit from talking with other leaders and learning more about projects and operations.
“I thought it was a great forum,” Bullard said. “It’s open, you can talk to people, you don’t have to have meetings, and it’s nice to meet who the contacts are face to face. I thought it was a great concept.”
Another participant, Jim Barr of the Barr Group, said the Nashville District hit a home run with its “BOOH” event because of the access it provided.
“If you’re doing business with this district this is probably the best event I’ve ever attended,” Barr said. “The uniqueness is I got to meet all the people within the Corps with the different departments, people I may have talked to on the phone or didn’t even know existed. It’s been great for me and our business.”
Kay Matthews, procurement center representative with the Tennessee District Office for the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Government Contracting, said she has been in small business for years and had never seen an event like this one where the program offices and the small businesses interact with each other.
“I think this is a great opportunity for small businesses to learn how your agency does business,” Matthews said. “Small businesses want this information and want to interact with the end user to find out how they can support the agency.”
This is the second “BOOH” event in the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, following one in the Detroit District.
Toy said it’s his experience that contractors seldom interact with the engineers and other experts at a Corps of Engineers district that they support and work for on projects, and that is why he developed and implemented this event.
“The engineering contractors can just come in and speak to whomever they want based on what their needs are so they can posture their company for possible work with the Corps,” Toy said. “Not only is it good for the contractors but it’s good for our team as well as we’re trying to get the most competitive bids out, and it’s truly about understanding capability.”
Toy stressed that the Corps is developing relationships with future partners with both large and small businesses at these open houses.
“So really it’s about helping us understand them and them understanding us in a setting that really allows them to do that,” said the general.
The participants had four hours to get to know the Nashville District’s personnel, and early feedback indicates many took full advantage of the opportunity of the free flow of information.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. Small business can also get information about the Nashville District’s Small Business Office at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Business-With-Us/Small-Business/.)