NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 11, 2015) – More than 255 business owners and managers and representatives from as far away as Detroit, California, Florida and Indiana gathered at the Tennessee State University Avon Williams Campus today to network and collect information on federal, state and local procurement systems at the 4th Annual Small Business Forum themed “Back to Business.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Small Business Office participated during the event and worked to educate business professionals about business networking, procurement processes, tools and resources, and provided information on how to get assistance on post awards, construction documents, safety and quality control.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Small Business Office, Society of American Military Engineers Nashville Post, local businesses, and USACE contracting, engineering and operations experts participated. They worked to educate business professionals about available tools and resources and provided information on how to obtain assistance with the federal procurement process.
Dr. Ruthie Reynolds, executive director of the Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Center at Tennessee State University, welcomed small business representatives to the Avon Williams campus and briefly talked about the university’s continued support for small business.
“We’ve been looking forward to this business forum,” said Reynolds. “This should be an exciting day of gathering information,” she said.
After Reynolds remarks, Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander, also welcomed the small business representatives and provided information about the ongoing projects in the district’s area of operation, and provided a video showing the overview of the district’s role in supporting the nation’s water needs and USACE mission.
“Welcome and we appreciate you coming today,” Hudson said. “The Corps may not be one of the easiest customers to work for when it comes to reconstruction documentation and quality assurance because we hold businesses to high standards. So today one of our objectives is to provide assistance in understanding that tedious process.”
Following Hudson’s speech, Eric Pagoria, chief of construction, Nashville District Engineering and Construction Branch, and Wayne Long, construction engineer, Nashville District Oak Ridge Project Office, spoke about how to navigate the process with federal contracts, and be successful.
“Our objective is to provide valuable information to business owners and representatives so they can use it to further assist them with the federal contract process,” said Pagoria.
Participants asked questions and spent time networking and meeting with contracting and government representatives in booths just outside of the TSU auditorium.
Leslie Hope, president of the Hydra Engineering & Construction company, a construction, engineering and environmental services company based in Crawfordville, Fla., said her company does business with the federal government and used the opportunity to network with potential subcontracts and clients, and to attend training seminars.
“This has been a great environment for me to meet Corps representatives, network with businesses and attend some refresher breakout training sessions in scheduling that I needed,” said Hope.
Roy Rossignol, chief of the Nashville District Small Business Office, said the event was an opportunity for the businesses to network with each other and for the Corps to build its list of contractors and their capabilities, as part of our market research for procurements.
“The training sessions were geared toward providing businesses with specific knowledge to help them succeed,” said Rossignol. “I get joy seeing businesses return year after year to the forum with renewed energy, motivated about networking, and forming partnerships,” said Rossignol.
Rossignol said businesses that attended met with vendors, networked with other businesses, interacted with government agencies, and picked topics of interest during three breakout training sessions throughout the forum. He said the forum was a success because of the sponsorship by the Tennessee State University Small Business Development Center, the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services, and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center.
Lang Sims, CEO and president of Seabrook Solutions, in Huntsville, Ala., and Craig Seabrook, vice-president of Operations of Seabrook Solutions, attended the forum to network and to receive procurement guidance to work with the Corps. Seabrook Solutions works with aerospace and defense contracting and consulting services.
“I am really happy we are here because of the networks and contacts,” said Sims. “I have been busy since setting up and had the opportunity to work closely with our partners at MESA Associates from Knoxville, Tenn., who are in the engineering and consulting industry.”
Sims said it was very nice to meet with other businesses that have the same business experiences and that know how to help you like the Corps did by having the forum.
“It’s good to know the Corps Small Business program is willing to take the time to provide someone to guide you through the process and care about wanting your business to grow by networking,” she said.
Tennessee State University Small Business Development Center at the Avon Williams campus, The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center and the Nashville District organized the activities. Other organizations that participated included the USACE Louisville District deputy for Small Business.
(For more information about working with the Nashville District Small Business Office, go to http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/Contact/ContactanOffice.aspx. For news, updates and information about the Nashville District, please follow and “Like” us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps .)