NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 6, 2019) – Business leaders converged on Music City today for the 9th Annual Small Business Industry Day at Tennessee State University and the Business Opportunities Open House, commonly referred to as the “BOOH” event.
More than 400 small and large business leaders attended Industry Day at TSU’s Avon Williams Campus, featuring presentations related to women owned small businesses. Each year the district picks one of the small business socio economic groups to highlight, and this year the event featured women owned small business.
Participants also met in designated classrooms with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District officials for the “BOOH” to learn about the Nashville District’s missions and projects, gain access to Corps experts and decision makers, and learn about what the Corps is planning in the future.
The two events were held simultaneously to provide a broad range of information and allow participants to network, visit exhibits, attend panel discussions, and meet with Corps of Engineers experts in hydropower, recreation, operations, water management, construction, engineering, project management, planning, contracting, legal, safety, security, natural resources, facility management and information technology.
“My focus was to position them where they might find an opportunity to bid on federal opportunities with the Corps or other federal agencies,” said Roy Rossignol, Nashville District Small Business chief. “Some of them do have capabilities that we can use, and I made sure that they got to see the decision makers and senior leaders in the Business Opportunities Open House.”
Rossignol said the purpose of the “BOOH” 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. Participants had access to Maj. Justin Toole, Nashville District deputy commander, and other district officials who provided information and answered questions.
For Industry Day, Ann Sullivan of the Madison Service Group gave the keynote address and talked about the challenges women face in federal contracting, noting how the Women’s Small Business Program has underperformed.
“The government has only met its woman-owned goals one time, and that was in FY15,” Sullivan said. “And so, what are we going to do about it?”
She advocated that it’s everyone’s job to educate contracting officials of the importance of taking advantage of the WOSB program. She said there are only 10,000 of 10 million women-owned businesses that are in the federal procurement system, and that has to change.
“If only every agency did something like this (Small Industry Day). It’s these kinds of forums that will educate not only us, but will educate the contracting folks in that agency,” Sullivan said.
Throughout the day, small business leaders networked with their peers, large businesses, and federal agencies, and toured exhibits from the Small Business Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Valley Authority, Veterans Affairs, NASA, Society of American Military Engineers Nashville Post, Tennessee State University Procurement, Credo Group, Louis Berger, Barr Group, Honeywell, Rose Law Firm, AECOM, Thalle Construction, Terracon, First Citizens Bank (an event sponsor), Baker Donelson, Turner Construction, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 Consolidated Nuclear Services, and UCOR. The Corps of Engineers provided participants with information and contracting forecasts for the Nashville District, Mobile District, Louisville District, Huntington District, and Great Lakes and Ohio River Division.
Annalyn Jones, president of Annalyn ANG Jones Distribution LLC., in Chattanooga, Tenn., said she really appreciates the opportunity to be able to network, especially one-on-one with Corps of Engineers experts across the different disciplines.
“The personal face-to-face interaction and networking is key to success of any business. You still have to have that personal touch,” Jones said. “There is a lot of information I get from coming here. It’s very helpful and it helps small businesses get ahead and put our stuff together where we can fully support the Corps’ mission.”
Jones said she is also appreciates this year’s focus on women owned businesses, and the people and organizations that help women with federal procurements to be able to compete in male-dominated industries.
Participants like Jones also took advantage of the easy access to ask questions directly with representatives, making the trip to Nashville very beneficial.
One company representative met with Corps of Engineer officials with the Nashville District and Huntington District to obtain forecast information on future contracting opportunities.
Craig Stevens, president of Genesis 360 Construction in Baton Rouge, La., said his company already works with the Corps of Engineers in different parts of the country, and this event allowed him to talk with contracting reps and program managers, which helps with putting his business in position to navigate the procurement system and to bid on contracts involving maintenance and construction.
“It helps determine if it’s a good fit for us and is this an opportunity for us to grow,” Stevens said.
This is the last annual small business event for Rossignol, who is retiring. His replacement, Susan Nicholson, attended to meet with colleagues and small business leaders as she assumes the position.
Rossignol gave special thanks to Dr. Ruthie Reynolds, TSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, for hosting the events and welcoming the many visitors to the Avon Williams Campus, and to Mayor David Briley for his remarks about the city of Nashville’s Equal Business Opportunity Program, which levels the playing field for women owned businesses.
(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/.)