Conference Attendees Learn About NASA
By David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
Those attending the 2015 Alabama-NASA MSFC Procurement Suppliers Conference learned about the U.S. agency and the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
That’s always useful information for business owners, but they also learned how to meet the requirements to bid on contracts from NASA and the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). That’s information that can grow a company, and many of the local executives at the conference are not currently conducting business with NASA or MSFC.
For local companies, any contracts that will be awarded mean new business. Many local firms are doing business with the Air Force, with Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Annex in Montgomery as well as the Department of Defense, which operates the Defense Information Systems Agency at Gunter.
“Regardless of where you are and where NASA is, there are opportunities,” said Ron Simmons, vice president, business development, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, which organized the one-day conference.
Those opportunities range from such basic business necessities as office supplies and office furniture to janitorial services and landscaping, Simmons said. Other areas include engineering, architecture, construction projects, information technology and consulting services.
“It’s not a small-business conference and it’s not a large-business conference,” he said.
The government mandates that a specific percentage of its contracts are awarded to minority-owned companies. NASA brought some of its prime contractors to the conference, including Lockheed Martin, The Boeing Co., Aerojet Rocketdyne, Jacobs Engineering Group, Teledyne Brown Engineering and CH2M Hill, which had displays at the conference and whose representatives talked one-on-one with attendees.
There were also a handful of people from MSFC, including the Space Launch System Program Office; Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications; Small Business Office; and Science & Technology. Participants learned about business opportunities in those areas.
The event at The Warehouse at Alley Station, featured speakers as well as a networking event.
NASA billed the conference as an opportunity to:
> Connect with NASA program representatives and prime contractors.
> Explore business opportunities with MSFC
> Learn about exciting programs featuring the Space Launch System Program Office.
> Launch your business procurement opportunities at this event.
Simmons hopes that the event grows to 700 to 1,000 people and thus would move to the Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa at the Convention Center. He was pleased with the inaugural event that drew 125 to 150 people. “For the first year it was amazing,” Simmons said. “I was very pleased. We were able to put this together in a month. The majority of the small businesses here have never done business with the federal government. Some are doing business with the federal government, but not with NASA.”